Buddhist monks caught with illegal fireworks

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – They found what they were looking for.

AFD inspector Darrick Pino and his partner were responding to a called-in complaint of illegal fireworks getting launched in the International District a little before dusk.

And driving on Zuni near Wyoming, they spotted the unlawful launch in a very unexpected place… the Hoi Phuoc Buddhist Temple.

Standing around to watch the show were a group of Buddhist monks. Pino pulled over and confirmed what his eyes saw. The monks were setting off a treasure trove of illegal fireworks, including Roman candles and mortars.

One of the women told Pino that somebody gave the temple the fireworks, telling them they were legal. When Pino asked them why they hadn’t seen any of the media coverage on which fireworks were illegal, the woman replied that they don’t watch TV, listen to the radio or read the paper.

“It’s still your responsibility to know the laws of the land,” Pino said, before writing the group a ticket.

That citation was one of 17 AFD wrote out on another busy July 4th. That’s more than double the 7 tickets the department dished out a year ago. The total number of illegal firework calls AFD received however, was down from 1,371 in 2013 to 1,233 this year.

The monks’ excuse of not knowing their fireworks were illegal was a common one. During News 13’s ride-along, another man caught with mortars claimed he’d recently moved here from El Paso and didn’t know Albuquerque’s law. He got a ticket too.

Those citations can carry a fine of up to $500 or 90 days in jail.

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