Photo: Nicholas Lerma
Ventura County – The early evening arrest of 20-year-old Moorpark resident Nicholas Lerma on March 24th might serve as an object lesson for all drivers to keep their cars in good working order.
It was just after 5:00 p.m. in Moorpark when a patrol deputy noticed what Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. William Hutton described as “vehicle equipment violations.” Clearly concerned for the safe operation of motorists in the area, the deputy pulled the Chevy Tahoe over to discuss those equipment issues with the driver.
But when the driver was identified as Lerma, a known member of a criminal street gang, and when the deputy observed “signs and symptoms of being under the influence of a controlled substance,” concerns quickly shifted from bad tail lights to a suspicion of other illegal activity. With his status as a documented gang member, Lerma’s vehicle became the subject of an immediate search.
That search lead the deputy to discover “a loaded silver handgun concealed in a trunk compartment of the vehicle,” and to Lerma’s immediate arrest. He was then transported to Ventura County Jail, where he was booked on charges of being under the influence of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed firearm within a vehicle, carrying a loaded unregistered firearm, and participation in a criminal street gang. He remains in custody with his bail set at $200,000.
Photos: Courtesy Ventura County Jail Booking, Ventura County Sheriff’s Department