The Santa Barbara Police Department arrested one man and charged two others this week after a year-long investigation by the department's narcotics unit. Lompoc resident Edward Cardoza, 51, was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail at $35,000 bail on the following charges: felon in possession of a firearm, violent felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed firearm, felon in possession of ammunition, and felon in possession of drug paraphernalia.
A second Lompoc resident, Louis Ramirez, 51, was not booked into jail because of a medical condition, but the District Attorney's office has charged him with being a felon in possession of a firearm and being a felon in possession of ammunition. Steven Silva, a 42-year-old Santa Barbara resident, was charged with carrying a firearm concealed in a vehicle, which is a misdemeanor. SBPD spokesman Sgt. Riley Harwood said Cardoza and Ramirez are each felons.
According to Harwood, the department's narcotics unit had been looking into Cardoza's alleged criminal behavior, for which they recently got a warrant to search his cars and home in Lompoc. On Monday, detectives observed Cardoza and Silva loading Silva's car with what looked like duffel bags filled with guns. When the men drove away, the detectives followed them driving south. When Cardoza and Silva drove into the parking lot of a liquor store on South Fairview Avenue in Goleta, police officers stopped them. Cardoza, seeing the officers approach, reportedly removed a loaded 9mm handgun from his waistband and tried to get rid of it, after which officers searched the car, finding seven rifles, two handguns, and close to 2,000 rounds of ammunition. Detectives believe that Cardoza and Silva were headed to Santa Barbara to sell the weapons and ammunition.
Detectives later search Cardoza's home, where they found Ramirez, who said he and Cardoza lived together. Inside, officers found three methamphetamine pipes, a narcotics scale, a gun safe, and another rifle and associated ammunition. Detectives discovered that the guns were stolen, but they haven't yet found the owner. Once they do, Harwood said, the three men may face additional charges.