Gilbert Villareal and Rae Ahnie Lopez
Santa Barbara County – Further evidence of a thriving underground economy in the distribution and sales of methamphetamine throughout the county came pursuant to a length investigation into the activities of Gilbert Villareal, a 34-year-old Lompoc resident, long suspected of retailing street sales of the controlled substance throughout the Central Coast.
According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Public Information officer Kelly Hoover, SBSD narcotics detectives had been wise to Villareal’s activities for well over a month when they “initiated surveillance” over him and the hotel out of which he was allegedly peddling the meth.
Later, 43-year-old Rene Ramirez was spotted cruising through the hotel parking lot in the company of 35-year-old Monica Avalos, reportedly Ramirez’ girlfriend.
Detectives conducted “an enforcement stop” of Ramirez’ vehicle, during which a K9 unit did some sniffing around in the car and located “a hidden compartment within the vehicle that contained more than four pounds of methamphetamine,” clearly more than might reasonably be considered an amount held for personal consumption.
Ramirez and Avalos were arrested on the scene and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail where they were booked on charges of possession of methamphetamine for sales, transportation of methamphetamine for sales, and concealment of a controlled substance in a false compartment inside a vehicle.
Shortly thereafter, pursuant to that arrest, a search warrant was served upon the hotel room occupied by Villareal and his 27-year-old girlfriend, Rae-Ahnie Lopez, herself a Lompoc resident.
Inside the hotel room detectives found even more methamphetamine packaged for sale, assorted narcotic paraphernalia, “a loaded firearm, and more than $7,000 in cash.”
Both Villareal and Lopez were arrested and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail where they were booked on charges of possession of methamphetamine for sales, transportation of methamphetamine for sales, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Photos: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking