The big question I have about a couple—he driving on a suspended license, she on probation—whose Dodge Caravan got stopped in Newport Beach with, according to police, seven AK-47 assault rifles, six 30-round high-capacity 7.62 caliber magazines, two 10-round magazines and more than 350 rounds of 7.62 caliber ammunition (all stolen) is: Where the hell were they going?
“We can't release any additional details on that at this time, due to the open investigation,” answered Jennifer Manzella, the Newport Beach Police spokeswoman. “I can reiterate that they were heading south.”
That would be south from the area of Bristol Street and Irvine Avenue, which is right next to the 73 freeway that eventually becomes a toll road. The occupants of the green Caravan were not heading home, as they were identified as Andrew John Cardiel Jr., 42, of Banning, and Heather Magun Gurule, 30, of Yucaipa. Both are felons based on the charges against them.
A patrol officer noticed their vehicle leaving a gas station at Bristol and Irvine just before 8:50 p.m. Friday due to expired registration and an equipment violation. While writing them up, the cop found out about Cardiel's suspended license and Gurule's probation status, explained Manzella, who added the officer also noticed the couple “appeared extremely nervous.”
More officers were called to assist, and a search of the Caravan revealed the cache of weapons that had been reported stolen in the state of Georgia, Manzella said. “All of the rifles were modified to fire in fully-automatic mode and one had a barrel less than 16 inches in length, in violation of California state law,” the spokeswoman added. “The search also revealed drug paraphernalia, burglary tools, and a notebook with identity theft information inside the van.”
The early investigation indicates the couple had been heading south along local freeways when they stopped for gas in Newport Beach, Manzella said. But from the 73 and not the 5? Maybe they were bound for the border and decided the relatively less-trafficked toll road would make them less likely to get stopped. Perhaps they were on their way to arm students pissed about rising tuition at UC Irvine. Or they could be artists who were going to melt down the firearms and ammo for the winter Sawdust Festival in Laguna Canyon. Who knows?
Whatever they were up to, both Cardiel and Gurule were popped for multiple charges, including: transporting a machine gun, possession of an assault weapon, possession of a short-barreled rifle, possession of high-capacity magazines, possession of stolen property and conspiracy. Cardiel was additionally charged with possession of burglary tools, possession of drug paraphernalia, false evidence of registration and driving on a suspended license. And police are also seeking additional charges of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition by a felon for both of them.
I'm no legal scholar but I'll go out on a limb and declare both are in deep doo-doo. Both were being held on $500,000 bail pending court appearances.
Oh, snap, pity poor Georgia. They're going to need those AKs and ammo for the coming zombie apocalypse I've been seein' on my teevee.