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Thursday, December 13 , 2018, 1:28 pm | Fair 66º


Four Arrested on Methamphetamine Charges in Lompoc After Months-Long Investigation

More than 4 pounds of methamphetamine, a loaded firearm and cash were confiscated after a series of arrests related to a Sheriff’s Department drugs investigation. Click to view larger
More than 4 pounds of methamphetamine, a loaded firearm and cash were confiscated after a series of arrests related to a Sheriff’s Department drugs investigation.  (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

Four people have been arrested in Lompoc after a five-month drug investigation during which detectives found more than $14,000 worth of methamphetamine hidden in a secret compartment in a vehicle driven by one of the suspects, authorities said.

Detectives arrested Gilbert Villareal, 34, of Lompoc, and Rene Ramirez, 43, of Los Angeles, on Dec. 30, 2015, for possession of methamphetamine for sale, among other charges, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

Rae-Ahnie Lopez, 27, of Lompoc and Monica Avalos, 35, of Los Angeles —  girlfriends of Villareal and Ramirez — were also arrested on possession charges.

The arrests resulted from months-long investigation surrounding methamphetamine sales in Lompoc, said Kelly Hoover, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

Click to view larger
(Gilbert Villareal)

Detectives identified Villareal as a methamphetamine trafficker and Ramirez as his supplier, Hoover said.

She added that Ramirez’s vehicle was identified as the suspect vehicle used to transport methamphetamine to Santa Barbara County.

On Dec. 29, detectives began surveillance of Villarreal in a Lompoc hotel where he was staying.  

Meanwhile, Ramirez was seen driving through the hotel parking lot, and detectives followed him to a Lompoc hotel, where an enforcement stop was conducted, Hoover said.

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(Rene Ramirez)

Ramirez and his girlfriend, Avalos, were arrested without incident and transported to the Sheriff’s Lompoc substation.

A search dog later found more than 4 pounds of methamphetamine in a hidden compartment in the vehicle, Hoover said.

The drugs are estimated to have a street value of approximately $14,350.

Ramirez and Avalos were arrested and are facing charges of possession of methamphetamine for sale, transportation of methamphetamine for sale, and concealment of a controlled substance in a false compartment inside a vehicle.

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(Monica Avalos)

A subsequent warrant was served at the Lompoc hotel where Villarreal and Lopez were staying.

“Detectives located additional methamphetamine packaged for sales, narcotic trafficking indicia, a loaded firearm, and more than $7,000 dollars in cash,” Hoover said.

Both were arrested, and Villareal was booked on charges of possession of methamphetamine for sales, transportation of methamphetamine for sale, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.  

Lopez was booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of possession of methamphetamine for sale.

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(Rae-Ahnie Lopez)

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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