Photo: Matthew Lee Caldwell
Santa Barbara County – Based upon the evidenced collected at the scene of his campsite in a public park area just outside the Orcutt city limits, 30-year-old Santa Maria resident Matthew Lee Caldwell was doing more than merely enjoying the great outdoors.
According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover, the Santa Maria Sheriff’s Station had received “extensive complaints of suspected criminal activity” in the Okerblom Trail County Park area.
Those complaints included witness reports of “drug activity and sales, attempted assaults, theft, and a possible endangered juvenile female” in a remote area of the park.
With that information at hand, SBSD deputies, working in collaboration with personnel attached to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, SBCO Parks, CHP, Santa Barbara Animal Services, Narcotics Task Force, SBCO Air Support, and multiple K-9 teams entered the park area on July 24th with a search warrant in hand.
The deputies quickly located “two tents that had been illegally erected” and conducted “a protective sweep” of the nearby terrain.
That investigation led to the discovery of “a large amount of methamphetamine, a scale, drug paraphernalia, pellet guns” and “nongame bird parts” found to be in possession of Caldwell at the time. Caldwell, who was in the company of a juvenile female, was summarily taken into custody and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, where he was booked on a wide variety of charges.
Those charges include: felony child endangerment, committing a felony while out on bail, possession of methamphetamine for sale, possession of drug paraphernalia, cultivation of marijuana, unlawful possession of nongame bird parts, building an outdoor fire for disposal of waste, building a campfire in a hazardous fire area, burning fallen timber without a permit, maintaining a campfire on grass-covered land without permission, possession of drugs in a public park, and trespassing in a county park.
The juvenile female was remanded to the custody of Child Welfare Services, while Caldwell remains in custody on a no-bail hold.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking