Whether or not Noe Israel Covarrubias of Foothill Ranch knew undercover police officers had placed him under surveillance in 2013 isn't clear, but the convicted felon behaved suspiciously.
Covarrubias often left his apartment, jumped into his Honda or on a motorcycle, drove below speed limits, frequently pulled over to curbs, made numerous U-turns and took bizarre routes in what cops believed were counter-surveillance efforts to shake potential law enforcement tails.
But the Southern California detectives--members of a federal narcotics task force--eventually had no trouble following Covarrubias to his secret treasure trove: a Lake Forest storage facility leased under another man's name.
According to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives report reviewed by OC Weekly, the previously convicted drug dealer possessed 27,000 Oxycontin pills, two pounds of methamphetamine, 34 firearms (including multiple AK-47-style machine guns), thousands of rounds of ammunition as well as military rockets.
This month, authorities arrested Covarrubias--who was born in 1982--and charged him on drug and weapon counts.
(At the time he was taken into custody, the defendant gave a false name, according to court records.)
During a Dec. 3 hearing inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, the defendant, who is using a public defender as his legal representative, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas F. McCormick that he's not guilty.
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McCormick approved the government's request that Covarrubias be held in custody without the possibility of bail and ordered a Feb. 10 arraignment hearing.
If convicted, he faces more than a decade in prison.