General Crime

Parolee Arrested After Officers Find Loaded Gun with Altered Serial Number

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A suspected gang member on parole was arrested Thursday when law enforcement officers recovered a gun with an altered serial number from his vehicle in Watsonville, an official said today. At about 4 p.m. Thursday, members of the Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Gang Task Force were on routine street gang suppression patrol at an apartment complex at 21 Main St. when officers spotted 25-year-old Oscar Espinoza, task force supervisor Stefan Fish said.

The officers knew that Espinoza, a suspected participant in criminal gang activity, was on parole from a prior conviction for possessing a firearm and lived at the complex, according to Fish. They contacted Espinoza, conducted a parole compliance search of his vehicle and located a loaded handgun hidden inside with the serial number rendered illegible, Fish said.

Task force members arrested Espinoza on suspicion of being a felon possessing a loaded, concealed firearm within a vehicle, possessing a firearm with an altered serial number and gang enhancements and booked him into the county jail, he said. The gun was the 27th firearm seized by the task force, made up of officers from multiple law enforcement agencies, so far this year and the 77th since 2012, according to Fish.

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