Two incidents just hours apart on Monday ended in a total of three arrests: one involving a hit-and-run on the Mesa, and the other a traffic stop near Hope Avenue that ended in two people arrested with over four pounds of narcotics, a handgun, and a replica firearm in the vehicle.
Early in the afternoon, officers responded to several reports from community members on the Mesa near Oceano Avenue that a vehicle had struck a juvenile riding a bicycle and was fleeing the area, according to a release from Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale of the Santa Barbara Police Department.
The victim was riding with three more juveniles on bicycles who witnessed the collision. Officers were able to investigate the scene, which included “vehicle parts” left by the suspect vehicle, and got a detailed description of the vehicle and license plate.
Traffic officers were able to identify the suspected vehicle, which matched the description and plate number, just down the hill near Castillo Street and conducted a traffic stop, and found the driver, Santa Barbara resident Jessica Mendoza, was allegedly involved in the collision and failed to stay at the scene.
She was arrested and booked in the Santa Barbara County Jail, charged with felony hit-and-run with injury, driving on a suspended license (misdemeanor), and driving without an alcohol interlock device (misdemeanor). She is being held on $50,000 bail.
Later that evening, in an unrelated incident, an officer stopped a vehicle on Calle Real near Hope Ave. after the driver was seen “clearly not wearing a seatbelt,” according to Ragsdale. The driver, 28-year-old Michael Diaz, was found to be driving without a valid license. When the officer asked whether the passenger was properly licensed, to allow them to take custody of the vehicle rather than being towed, it was found that both the driver and passenger, 25-year-old Angelica Hernandez, had active warrants for their arrest.
Both were taken into custody on scene, where a search of the vehicle revealed Hernandez was in possession of over four pounds of narcotics, including “large amounts of methamphetamine, fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, suboxone, clonazepam, and oxycodone.” Also inside the vehicle was a “loaded 9mm handgun” and a replica firearm made to look identical to an actual handgun.
Hernandez was charged with possession of narcotic paraphernalia, possession of drugs without a prescription, and the warrant. Her bail was set at $50,000.
Diaz was charged with “felon in possession of handgun (felony), possession of a controlled substance for sales (felony), transportation of a controlled substance (felony), possession of methamphetamine for sales (felony), transportation of methamphetamine (felony), possession of a high-capacity magazine (misdemeanor), felon in possession of ammunition (misdemeanor), use/manufacture of a false compartment concealing illegal narcotics (misdemeanor), and the above mentioned warrants.” Upon booking into Santa Barbara County Jail, it was discovered Diaz had more narcotics hidden on him and an additional felony charge of entering a government facility with contraband was added. He is being held without bail.