Santa Barbara police seized a cache of illegal firearms and martial arts weapons from within a fortified compound Friday after arresting the owner of the residence for using methamphetamine.
Detectives from the City of Santa Barbara Police Dept. (SBPD) apprehended 43-year-old Donald Mobley away from his home on the 400 block of West Valerio St., located downtown near the intersection of Mission Street and De La Vina Street, when they determined that he was under the influence of illegal drugs. Police later served a search warrant at Mobley’s residence, which was protected by high security fences, a video surveillance system, and two part-wolf guard dogs. Officers discovered nine firearms in a gun safe – four of which may fall under the state assault weapons ban. Among the suspect weapons were two semiautomatic .308 caliber rifles, one 9 mm rifle with a 100-round magazine and one pistol with a 40-round magazine.
In addition to the firearms, police found other illegal weapons such as nunchaku and fighting daggers, as well as marijuana and large quantities of live military-grade ammunition. Mobley was arrested on charges of possession of illegal weapons, being a drug addict in possession of firearms, possession of marijuana and allowing his 17-year-old son to live in a dangerous environment.
Police Dept. spokesman, Lt. Paul McCaffrey, said Mobley’s highly fortified residence and drug use presented a unique challenge for the officers investigating the case.
“We had significant concerns about going into a situation where we know the subject is using illegal drugs, he owns high-powered firearms and he lives in this fortified compound with security fencing and guard dogs,” McCaffrey said. “A lot of people, you couldn’t pay them enough to put themselves in that kind of situation.”
Mobley’s arrest went smoothly overall, McCaffrey said, especially considering the dangerous circumstances involved in his capture.
“A common side effect of methamphetamine use is paranoia,” McCaffrey said. “Someone who is paranoid, and the police try to arrest him, has the potential to react violently.”
McCaffrey said police were fortunate to be able to apprehend Mobley when he did not have the chance to retaliate with firearms or hole up in his secure residence.
“Operationally, it worked out excellently,” McCaffrey said. “He was taken into custody safely, away from where he had access to the weapons, and there was no injury to [police] or to the public. You couldn’t ask for a better scenario.”
While crimes involving drug use or illegal ownership of firearms are not especially uncommon in the area, McCaffrey said, the particular types of weapons discovered at Mobley’s residence were an unusual discovery for the SBPD.
“Some of the guns are easily modified to fire fully automatic,” McCaffrey said. “It’s pretty rare that we run into those kinds of weapons.”