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Traffic Stop Leads To Weapons Arrest, Significant Investigation

Presidio of San Francisco

National Park News

Late on the evening of June 13th, USPP officer Michael Mertz stopped a vehicle for speeding on Lincoln Boulevard within the Presidio. A computer check on the driver revealed that he had an extensive criminal history and that a court-ordered warrantless search condition was on file against him. When Mertz and assisting officer Michael Cameron searched him, they found that he was wearing an empty gun holster inside his pants waistband. He and his female passenger were detained while the interior of the vehicle was searched. During the search, Cameron heard a rattling in the dashboard that was inconsistent with a normal engine sound and saw a portion of an ammunition magazine through a space in the area where the passenger’s air bag would normally be located above the glove box. Further investigation revealed that this hidden compartment was designed to be accessed covertly by the vehicle operator by depressing the car brake pedal and simultaneously pressing a switch located under the driver's dashboard. The hidden compartment contained a loaded Glock 26 semi-automatic 9mm handgun and a fully loaded 30 round high-capacity magazine. This gun came back as stolen in San Francisco. The vehicle was impounded and the operator was placed in custody and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, among other federal charges.  A search warrant was obtained for the vehicle. During this second and more aggressive search, a second handgun was discovered hidden behind the door panel in the driver’s side door.  This 40 caliber semi-automatic was also loaded. The subsequent investigation has spread to include local law enforcement agencies, and it’s been determined that the man is a ‘person of interest’ in two Bay Area homicides, has gang affiliations, and has an extensive criminal history. The case is currently pending adjudication in federal court. USPP detective Larry Morales is the lead investigator in this case.


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