SANTA BARBARA COUNTY — The Santa Ynez Valley, just a few miles north of Santa Barbara’s city limits, is distinctly different from its tourist-town neighbor in many respects. Where Santa Barbara embraced a beach-surf-arts culture, Santa Ynez prides itself on citizen independence and conservative political and family values.
People in Santa Ynez own guns. As a sprawling, remote ranching community, however, few of those guns are “street crime” weapons. You’ll find rifles and shotguns in many homes, but not many .25 caliber pocket pistols. Nor will you find much in the way of “street drugs” common to many urban locales.
So, just after midnight on December 17th, when a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputy on routine patrol spotted an unfamiliar vehicle with an inoperable taillight, he was in for a bit of a surprise. According to SBSD Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover, a traffic stop was conducted just north of the Chumash Casino, and when the Deputy approached the vehicle, “he observed the driver making movements toward the center console.”
The Deputy then made verbal contact with the two males in the car, quickly determining that the passenger, Roman Valdez, 20, was a parolee with an outstanding arrest warrant. With his interest in the pair undoubtedly piqued by that discovery, additional Deputies were summoned to the scene and a search of the vehicle was conducted. What they found in the car was uncharacteristic of the citizens of Santa Ynez, with 98.5 grams of methampetamine, 46.5 grams of marijuana, assorted drug paraphernalia, a loaded .25 handgun, and approximately $2,000 in cash ultimately discovered.
Both the driver, Michael Aragon, 30, and Valdez were arrested on possession of methamphetamine for sales, transportation of methamphetamine for sales, possession of marijuana for sales, and possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon. Both gentlemen were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, with $35,000 bail for Aragon and a no-bail hold on Valdez.
Photos: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking
Santa Ynez Valley News: Two men jailed for alleged drugs, weapons after traffic stop
SB County Sheriff press release: Loaded Handgun, Drugs and Cash Found During Traffic Stop