Men with Assault Rifles Arrested on Wind Wolves Preserve

(FRAZIER PARK, Calif.–Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2008) The Kern County Sheriff’s Department Major Violators Unit arrested two men for weapons charges in the Wind Wolves Preserve near Interstate 5 and Laval Road. According to a a sheriff’s office press release, the men were suspected of cultivating marijuana, though no detail about that was given in the release.

At 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14 the Sheriff’s Department Major Violators Unit was called to the Wind Wolves Preserve to meet with deputies from the Frazier Park Substation who had detained two subjects on the preserve at the mouth of Salt Creek Canyon. The deputies were told by security personnel from the preserve, at approximately 12 p.m., that the two subjects were seen on the preserve coming from the Rincon Flats area, each carrying military type back packs. Rincon Flats is just west of Interstate 5 in the Mettler area.

Believing the subjects were possibly involved in marijuana cultivation and trespassing on the preserve, the security agents called law enforcement. When the deputies detained the subjects neither were in possession of the back packs. Deputies started a search of the area and found two military style back packs and a .22 caliber rifle several yards away hidden in a water storage vent.

Inside the back packs deputies found two AR-15 assault rifles and a Glock .40 caliber handgun. Over 100 rounds of ammunition for the handgun and rifles were also found in the back packs along with miscellaneous food items and extra clothing. The subjects told law enforcement they were out hiking and looking for a place to shoot in the mountain area.

The subjects, Jesus Vasquez, 23 years old of Mettler and Ismael Esparza Jr., 27 years old of Mettler were both arrested. Vasquez was arrested for possession of an assault rifle and trespassing. Esparza Jr. was arrested for possession of an assault rifle, felon in possession of ammunition, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a concealed weapon and trespassing.

According to Wildlands Conservancy Resource Ecologist David Clendenen and Associate Director Dan York, a friend of the two men told authorities that a plan was in place for the two men to be picked up at the Petro station on Laval Road at a later point in time.

Both subjects were transported and booked into the Sheriff’s Department Central Receiving Facility. Investigation is still ongoing at this time.

Clendenen and York both spoke highly of the Kern County Sheriff’s Department and the rapid response to the incident. "The Sheriff’s Department responded quickly and professionally. This was a scary event for us and they handled it very well," Clendenen told The Mountain Enterprise.

This is part of the October 10, 2008 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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