Friday May 10, 2019
LOS ANGELES: A weapons cache of more than 1,000 firearms and ammunition was seized in a raid on a multi-million dollar mansion in an upmarket neighbourhood of Los Angeles, law enforcement authorities said.
The seizure came following an anonymous tip that firearms were being sold illegally out of the home, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) said.
The house, which is mostly hidden from the street by high hedges, is located in the exclusive Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles, near the famed Playboy Mansion and less than a mile from the home of music industry power couple Jay-Z and Beyonce.
The Los Angeles Times said the home belongs to Cynthia Beck, who has three children with Gordon Getty, the son of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty.
Video footage taken by local television stations showed Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers and ATF agents inspecting enormous piles of handguns and rifles on grey tarpaulin outside the home.
Photos taken at the scene also showed boxes of ammunition stacked on a table inside the large house, which was cluttered with the weapons.
The local ABC news station said some of the guns were modern while others dated back 50 years or more. A few were even collectables that dated back to the Civil War, it said.
Police said a 57-year-old man identified as Girard Damien Saenz was arrested and faces a number of firearms charges including distributing, transporting and selling assault weapons.
Saenz was released Thursday morning on $50,000 bail and it was unclear if he had a valid permit to possess the weapons.
Authorities noted that while it is not illegal to own such a large amount of weapons, it is illegal if someone is selling them without following proper state or federal regulations.
"It's just beyond comprehension that somebody can have so many weapons in a residence like this in a neighbourhood such like this," Los Angeles police lieutenant Chris Ramirez told reporters at the scene.
"I've never seen so many weapons in my career of 31 years," he added. "It's kind of astounding."
Authorities said it took some 30 law enforcement officers more than 15 hours — beginning at 4AM (0800 GMT) on Wednesday — to clear the house and remove the weapons.
"Pursuant to an anonymous tip, ATF and LAPD became aware of an individual conducting illegal firearms (transactions) outside the scope of the federal firearm license that the individual possesses," the ATF said in a statement.
"A large amount of firearms manufacturing equipment and tools have been recovered," it added. "ATF and LAPD have no reason to believe the public is in any danger."
Beck, who is said to be living in Europe, could not be reached for comment and it was unclear if she was renting the house to Saenz or if she was aware of the weapons stacked inside.
The Times said Beck and Saenz together own several properties in the Los Angeles area and an office building in San Francisco.