Men with Assault Rifles on Wind Wolves Preserve Arrested

The Kern County Sheriff’s Major Violators Unit arrested two men for weapons charges in the Wind Wolves Preserve on Tuesday, Oct. 14. They were called to meet with deputies from the Frazier Park Substation who had detained two subjects on the preserve at the mouth of Salt Creek Canyon. Deputies were told by the preserve’s security personnel at about noon that the two subjects were seen coming from the preserve’s Rincon Flats area, each carrying military style backpacks. 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 backpacks. Deputies searched the area and found two backpacks and a .22 caliber rifle several yards away, hidden in a water storage vent.

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

Jesus Vasquez, 23 of Mettler and Ismael Esparza Jr., 27 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 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.

–Reported by Gary Meyer

This is part of the October 17, 2008 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

Have an opinion on this matter? We'd like to hear from you.