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Sheriff: Suspected catalytic converter thieves also found in possession of illegal guns

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Posted at 3:26 PM, Oct 25, 2021

Two men from Santa Maria were arrested after sheriff's officials say they were caught with a stolen catalytic converter and illegal guns.

According to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 21, deputies responded to a reported theft of a catalytic converter from an RV on Madera Street in Santa Ynez.

Deputies were told the suspected thieves left the area in a small, dark-colored Honda sedan.

A deputy reportedly spotted the car just a minute later near Edison Street and Highway 154 and conducted a traffic stop.

Sheriff's officials say the stolen catalytic converter and an electric hand saw were found under the passenger's feet, and a further search of the vehicle turned up an unregistered short-barreled assault rifle with a 30-round magazine, an unregistered polymer 9mm handgun, and a Smith and Wesson .38 Special. Burglary tools were also reportedly found in the vehicle, and officials say the driver was found to be in possession of methamphetamine.

Edgar Puga, 29, was arrested on suspicion of driving without a license, possession of a controlled substance, carrying a concealed firearm, conspiracy, grand theft, possession of a short-barreled rifle, possession of burglary tools, and possession of an assault rifle. Sheriff's officials say Puga also had five misdemeanor warrants for his arrest.

Alejandro Maldonado, 34, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy, grand theft, possession of burglary tools, and impersonating another person. Sheriff's officials say Maldonado was also on active parole.