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Probation search yields chop shop, drugs & guns
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Rommel, 25, left of Manteca, and Curtis Moore, 21, of Stockton, are led to a Manteca police transport van after their arrest at a Navajo Way residence Tuesday afternoon where a collection of rifles, a chop shop and drugs were located in a Tuesday afternoon probation search. - photo by GLENN KAHL
An automotive chop shop, along with four rifles, ammunition and drugs were discovered in a Raymus Village neighborhood Tuesday afternoon by Manteca officers making a routine probation search.

Manteca Police street crime unit officers were checking on Chris Rommel, 25, at his Navajo Way residence when they came upon the find that leveled charges of a chop shop and a convicted felon being in possession of firearms and ammunition.

Curtis Moore, 21, of Stockton drove up to the house as officers were attempting to gain entry to the residence.  He was detained by detective Steve Harris and found to have drugs and a crank pipe in his possession plus outstanding warrants, police said.

Officer Paul Carmona said that no one responded to their knocks at the front door.  Since the probation search carries the provision to search the suspect and his residence, one group of officers entered the house through the garage and another two went in through the rear of the house.

They said they found two men sitting on a couch, noting that Rommel was not in the room.  In clearing the other rooms one at a time, they came upon a bedroom door at the end of the hall that was locked.  Carmona said that as he banged on the door he heard the sound of an ammunition clip going into a rifle as they forced their way into the room.

Once inside they found their probation subject sitting on the bed, a rifle next to him under a pile of clothes, the officer said. Two other rifles – one an assault rifle – were found in a compartment beneath the floor in the man’s closet and the last weapon was located in his mother’s closet, police said.

Officers from the DELTARAT auto theft task force took over the investigation of what they believed to be a chop shop operation just behind the front fence of the home.  A late model pickup parked on a backyard concrete pad had been placed up on jacks and the front fenders and hood had been removed.

Police quickly discovered those gray fenders and hood on a second pickup truck – black in color – parked in the driveway of the home.  The color contrast made the scenario obvious to police.

A neighbor walked over to police on the scene wanting to look at the rifles they had found.  He said his home had been burglarized on two occasions and he had lost some 20 guns – but the ones police found were not his.

Police said Moore had two felony warrants on former drug charges, but he was released on citations due to the overcrowded conditions at the San Joaquin County Jail.

Rommel was processed at the Manteca Police Department jail prior to being transferred to the San Joaquin County Jail Tuesday night.