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LAPD search yields cache of guns, ammo and arrest

Los Angeles police seized nearly 40 stolen guns, methamphetamine, some 1,500 pounds of ammunition and cash this week when they arrested a suspected gang member who detectives believe was going to sell the weapons to other gang members, officials said Thursday.

Michael Mendoza, 44, was arrested Tuesday night, four hours after police began watching him as part of their investigation, the LAPD said.

After Mendoza was taken into custody, officers served search warrants at a home and storage facility in Northridge. That’s when they found the guns -- 39 in all, including assault rifles -- boxes of ammo and equipment used to make fake credit cards, said Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese.

As Albanese spoke to reporters Thursday, he was flanked by the weapons and ammunition. Also among the seized items: red, white and blue boxing attire. Albanese said the gear might have been used as part of an identity theft scheme that detectives were also investigating.

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The guns and ammunition recovered were recently stolen from another storage facility, he said. Although they were legally owned, Albanese said they should have been kept in a more secure location.

Albanese said detectives believe Mendoza -- whom he described as a convicted felon and gang member -- planned to sell the guns to other gang members, which he said would have posed an “extreme danger” to the public.

“These are very sophisticated weapons,” he said.

Mendoza was booked on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance with a firearm, Albanese said. His bail was set at $90,000. Online jail records show he was released Wednesday.

Follow @katemather for more LAPD news.

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