Police seize guns, drugs

Police seize guns, drugs
Bust comes after two-month investigation. Officials say three men have gang ties.
Lolita Harper
Daily Pilot

March 27, 2004

COSTA MESA — Detectives posing as gang members Friday seized more than $80,000 worth of black market firearms and illegal drugs from three suspects they had been dealing with during a two-month investigation, police said.

Agustin Perez Razo, 26 of Sacramento, Roberto Rodriguez, 31 of Santa Ana and Miguel Garay, 28 of Monrovia were arrested Thursday outside of Kmart in Costa Mesa — where the deal was planned to go down — on suspicion of a slew of charges, Costa Mesa Police Lt. John FitzPatrick said.

The men, who are suspected of possessing materials intended to manufacture methamphetamine, selling unregistered firearms, machine guns, assault weapons and marijuana, led officials to a virtual arsenal in an undisclosed Santa Ana residence.

Some of the firearms gathered by police were an AK-47 assault weapon, a MAC 11 fully automatic machine pistol — both of which had the serial numbers filed off — and several handguns.

“These were gang members selling guns to other gang members,” FitzPatrick said.

Detectives first were exposed to Razo, Rodriguez and Garay after following up on a drug lead, FitzPatrick said.

“Razo told one of our undercovers he could buy him any type of guns he wanted,” FitzPatrick said, including machine guns, assault weapons and guns equipped with silencers.

Costa Mesa police immediately contacted the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Federal agents were on the scene Friday when the search was conducted, said Latese Baker, the bureau’s public information officer.

“These partnerships are extremely important for us because we provide federal resources to local and state law enforcement, which makes available all the tools and all the resources to make the greatest impact,” Baker said.

Over the course of the two-month investigation, Costa Mesa detectives bought a total of nine guns from the suspects, several of which were delivered fully loaded, police said. Officers then set up the meeting on Thursday, where other officers were waiting to bust the men, who allegedly delivered six ounces of methamphetamine and a pound of marijuana as well.

Razo, Rodriguez and Garay are suspected Santa Ana gang members, FitzPatrick said, and were allegedly selling to other Santa Ana gang members. While the firearms cannot be directly traced to any Costa Mesa gangs, shootings are always a serious issue, especially in light of the three — one fatal — that have occurred in the past six months, he said.

“The amount of guns that are on the street are definitely increasing,” FitzPatrick said. “Our officers are making an active effort to keep those guns off of our streets.”

FitzPatrick did not disclose which gang the men are suspected to be tied to but said the illegal affiliations do not end there.

The three men must have “connections in the black market to be selling weapons of this sort or have burglarized a gun store and are trying to get rid of the weapons they had stolen,” FitzPatrick said.

Being able to team up with Costa Mesa officers makes it easier for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to accomplish its mission to track down the sale of firearms and follow up on every lead, Baker said.

“We have a much greater impact when agencies work together,” Baker said.

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