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Suspects Apprehended by K9 Unit and County Air Support

Santa Maria, Calif. – Sheriff’s deputies arrested two Lompoc men for theft of a vehicle, attempted theft of a catalytic converter, conspiracy, and assault. On Wednesday, May 25, 2022, at approximately 12:02 p.m., deputies were dispatched to the 1900-block of Elmwood Drive in the Tanglewood area for an attempted theft of a catalytic converter that had just occurred.

When deputies arrived in the area, they learned that two suspects drove to the area and were attempting to saw the catalytic converter off a separate vehicle when they were confronted by the vehicle owner. One of the suspects swung a collapsed scissor-jack at the victim before both suspects ran into an adjacent field. Deputies ran the license plate on the vehicle that the suspects abandoned and found that it was reported as stolen from Lompoc earlier in the day. Sheriff’s deputies set up a perimeter and requested County Air Support as well as a Sheriff’s K9 unit to assist with a search of the area for the suspects.

County Air Support gave announcements to the suspects to surrender while they tracked the suspects though a field with thick, tall brush. Sheriff’s Deputy Shane Moore deployed his K9 partner Zeke into the brush where he encountered and apprehended one of the suspects, later identified as 35-year-old Francisco Meza-Cardenas. The second subject, later identified as 31-year-old Abel Barajas Zavala, continued to run through the field and was apprehended shortly afterwards by additional deputies in the area who were guided to him with the assistance of County Air Support Unit Pilot Loren Courtney and Tactical Flight Officer, Special Duty Deputy Todd Lefemine.

Meza-Cardenas was transported to an area hospital where he was treated for his injuries from the K9 apprehension. Both suspects were booked at the Main Jail for resisting arrest (misdemeanor), attempted grand theft (felony), vehicle theft (felony), and conspiracy (felony). Meza-Cardenas was also booked for assault with a deadly weapon as well as two outstanding warrants. He is being held on $60,000 bail. Zavala was released without bail pursuant to the local court’s extension of Emergency Rule 4.

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