SANTA BARBARA — Santa Barbara, known as a much sought-after tourist destination and the home of internationally-renowned celebrities, hardly seems like the best place to be cruising the streets looking for buyers of illegal weapons and ammunition. Edward Anthony Cardoza, 51, Louis Edward Ramirez, 51, and Steven Frank Silva, 42, however, must have another view of The Mission City, as they were found driving toward the city limits on November 11th with what can only be described as an impressive arsenal in their possession.
According to Santa Barbara Police Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Riley Harwood, Cardoza had been under investigation for suspicion of trafficking in drugs and firearms for more than a year when they prepared to serve a search warrant on his Lompoc residence. As detectives monitored Cardoza’s place, they saw him and Silva “loading what appeared to be duffel bags containing long guns into a van belonging to Silva,” Harwood reported. The pair then drove from Lompoc to Santa Barbara, whereupon SBPD officers of the Criminal Impact Team made contact with them in the parking lot of a Goleta liquor store.
As soon as Cardoza found himself confronted with law enforcement, he “withdrew a loaded 9mm handgun from his waistband and attempted to discard it,” as Harwood described the scene to the media. Apparently showing considerable restraint after several years of multiple officer-involved shootings, the detectives and uniformed officers merely took Cardoza and Silva into custody. With plenty of probable cause in mind, the officers promptly searched the van and found a cornucopia within: “seven rifles, two handguns, and approximately 2,000 rounds of ammunition.” A contemporaneous search of Cardoza’s residence, where Ramirez was found at home, revealed additional weapons as well as myriad drug paraphernalia on the premises.
Subsequent investigation established that the weapons had all been stolen with the apparent intent to sell them on the streets of Santa Barbara. Cardoza and Silva were both arrested and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of felon in possession of a firearm, violent felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed firearm, felon in possession of ammunition, and possession of drug paraphernalia, with bail set at $35,000 each. Ramirez, while not booked into jail due to a medical condition, nevertheless was charged similarly, and like his two cohorts may face additional charges relating to the initial theft of the weapons.
Photos: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking
SB Independent: Detectives seize Guns and drugs