HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "I can tell you these illegal firework dealers are licking their chops right now hoping you ban everything," Larry Lomaz told the Honolulu City Council Wednesday.
Thursday he stood by that statement about Oahu's fireworks bill that would ban sparklers, fountains and paperless firecrackers.
"It's absolutely not an overstatement," he said.
Lomaz owns Pacific Fireworks. He said illegal dealers will make a killing if the ban becomes law.
"When someone goes to the local illegal fireworks dealer and says, 'Look, I'm just after some fountains and sparklers,' chances are they're not going to have that product. They're going to say, ' Well I have artillery shells. I have skyrockets. I have all these other items,'" he said.
Honolulu police are counting on consumers to make a right choice.
"I think it's premature to say that over 200,000 people are going to try and seek out the black market and willingly violate the law to seek out their fireworks needs," Maj. Michael Moses said.
Moses is on the statewide illegal fireworks task force.
He said cops are learning about the underground industry.
Lomaz estimates Hawaii does 50,000 illegal fireworks transactions a year.
"That tells us there may be more money in illegal fireworks than the drug business," he said.
"To compare the fireworks black market and the drug black market I think is not accurate," Moses said.
Lomaz said illegal fireworks come to Hawaii from Washington state and Missouri.
Moses said law enforcement will be on the lookout.
"As far as investigations, we probably will set up some type of tip line, maybe develop a partnership with the CrimeStoppers program," he said.
"Where do you think that business is going to go when the peer pressure is on the family to come up with something to match what the neighbor has?' Lomaz said.
Lomaz has been in the fireworks business for 40 years. He said his knowledge of the black market comes from inside information.
He told the council a ban would make Hawaii a more enticing market for illegal fireworks dealers.
Now the fuse is lit.
More about this story on HawaiiNewsNow.com:
Oahu a Mayor's signature away from partial fireworks ban
Honolulu council votes to ban consumer fireworks