Sheriff seizes more than 550 firearms in Agua Dulce

Sheriff's officials released the photo above from an operation in Agua Dulce on June 14.

Following on a tip about a felon who might be in possession of an arsenal, Sheriff’s Station officials investigated a pair or properties and then seized more than 550 firearms during a recent operation in Agua Dulce.

Manuel Fernandez, 60, of Agua Dulce, was arrested Thursday, and charged with felon in possession of firearms; possession of an assault rifle; felon in possession of ammunition; and possession of large capacity magazines, officials said Monday.

The Palmdale Station’s Detective Unit, along with the Summer Crime Enforcement Team, the Special Problems Unit and a host of federal officials served two search warrants in connection with the investigation: one in the 34700 block of Caprock Road, in Agua Dulce, at around 7:30 a.m. Thursday, during which time 432 firearms were found at Fernandez’ residence. A second warrant was then served in the 34900 block of Sweetwater Drive, also in Agua Dulce, which resulted in the seizure of 30 illegal firearms possessed by a female associate fo Fernandez’. The woman has yet to return to her residence, and detectives are preparing charges for filing consideration with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Sheriff’s officials then went back with a subsequent warrant search of Manuel Fernandez’s home Friday, which led to the seizure of an additional 91 firearms that were hidden within the home, according to a Nixle news release. Detectives also seized computers, cellphones and hard drives from the residence believed to be involved in the illicit purchase of firearms by the suspect.

The initial information was looked into by Palmdale Sheriff’s Station deputies, according to the Sheriff’s Information Bureau, which issued a statement Monday from Sheriff Jim McDonnell in response to the arrest.

“This case is a testament to the community’s involvement in reducing crime and taking guns out of the hands of criminals,” McDonnell said. “We are proud of the relationship we have built in the Antelope Valley area as we continue to build trust with the communities we serve.”

Due to the large number of firearms recovered, detectives enlisted the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) for tracing the purchase origination of the weapons. Agents from both the California Department of Justice and ATF will be providing resources as the case continues through the court process.

The arrest was perfect example of what can go right when citizens notice something askew and feel empowered to reach out to local law enforcement officers, McDonnell said.

“The swift response of our Palmdale Sheriff’s Station personnel and the assistance provided by our partners at the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms,” McDonnell said in a statement, “showed the positive result of our campaign, ‘See Something, Say Something.’”

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