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— Though picking up the flares from the county's beaches may be routine for the bomb/arson team, this year hasn't been routine in terms of the numbers they've retrieved. "We've picked up over 100 already, and it's only September." Grayson attributes the increase to the fact that "there's a war going on."

That increase may account for the flare canisters showing up in Playas, where, Anguiano says, they haven't been seen before. But Grayson says they have washed up on northern Baja beaches before. When that happens, Grayson explains, "Their federal EPA will call us, and we will go down to Otay and meet them at Customs. We take the flare from them and tape it up the way it is supposed to."

He adds, "They are just not trained in how to handle these things; they throw them in the back of their pickup truck."

Grayson says the English-only labeling might account for the poor handling in Mexico. "I can't tell the U.S. government what to do," he says, "but they should make these labels in Spanish too. Because these things end up down as far as Ensenada."

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