KCMO Police: Social media tips lead to arrest of man selling illegal explosives

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A 30-year-old Kansas City man faces a felony criminal charge in Jackson County in connection with the possession and sale of illegal explosives. Prosecutors say James E. Dunlap was advertising explosive devices for sale.  People saw his ads on social media and alerted police, who called in the Bomb and Arson Unit to investigate.

"There was a lot… a bunch," said Nancy Perez, who lives next door to Dunlap. "We saw him unpack the trailer, they had a U-Haul come in, and then another trailer."

From KCMO Police Dept.

From KCMO Police Dept.

boxes of explosives

When he was arrested, police say he had nearly 200 explosive devices in his possession. According to court records, an investigation by the bomb and arson unit uncovered that Dunlap was selling them.


"Any time that you're putting consumer fireworks or you're trying to make fireworks in a home, it's just a recipe for disaster," said John Ham, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Division.

Ham says this is extremely dangerous for those living around him, and the activity could have been fatal.

"The powders that are inside, and the chemicals that are inside these fireworks are unstable by nature," he explained. "Every year we end up, the way we find out is, we get called to an accident or a death or an explosion, and at that point there's nothing we can do."

Captain Tye Grant with the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department says the arrest was possible because of the help of people in the community and social media.

"We had a few of them that told us this person had these improvised devices, and they thought they were probably illegal, and that tip led us to this arrest," Grant said.

He says these explosives are very powerful, and this is how people get hurt.

"Most of the time when that occurs, it's occurring in a location that's not safe, not safe because it's not clean, the person that's doing it generally doesn't know a whole lot about what they're doing, lots of accidents occur," said Grant.

"I was glad they got him, there were so many of them there," Perez said.

Prosecutors have requested a bond of $15,000 for Dunlap. Ham says the ATF and the Kansas City Bomb/Arson Unit take this very seriously, and says they will be out enforcing the law -- especially with July 4th being around the corner.

The police department wants to remind everyone that it is illegal to possess, sell, or shoot fireworks within city limits, and recommend that you view fireworks at a professional display. For a list of Independence Day celebrations, click here.  The risk of fireworks injury is highest for young people ages 15-24, followed by children younger than 10.