The Humboldt County sheriff's office showed off more than 100 seized firearms during a press conference in Eureka last Wednesday morning. They were seized on the Alderpoint property of Ryan Floyd - a 30-year-old Garberville resident who was taken into custody after a search of his property turned up narcotics, stolen property, enough body armor for 20 men and thousands of rounds of ammunition in a variety of calibers.
In an interview with the Redwood Times last week, Lt. Steve Knight, the sheriff's office public information officer, expressed concern over a large number of empty gun cases and pistol holsters that were also found in Floyd's possession at the time of the first search warrant executed on his Alderpoint property. Law enforcement later organized a second search using four-wheelers to navigate the 55-acre parcel. During that second search, deputies located a cave that had been concealed and covered over with brush. The opening was described as roughly three feet in size.
There was an unusually inconsistent variety of weapons in the cave - including cowboy-style revolvers, tactical assault rifles, and a fully automatic belt-fed machine gun manufactured by the Germans in World War II, and reportedly nicknamed "Hitler's Buzz Saw" by American soldiers. So far authorities believe that roughly 20 of the guns may be stolen, and that number could rise as the investigation continues.
"Some of these, this one here especially is a band weapon - a fully automatic belt-fed weapon. On the open market, it would draw a pretty nice price," Downey said. "I think that's the biggest thing. These weapons were definitely for sale at some point, or would have been."
Downey told the Redwood Times that they haven't found any evidence to indicate that Floyd was engaged in illegal weapons sales, but he was at a loss for any other explanation.
Now that these guns have been seized, it's unclear what will happen to them next. The stolen guns may get returned to their rightful owners if they can be located. Some of them may also end up getting destroyed, or even traded to gun dealers or other law enforcement agencies, but none of the confiscated weapons will be returned to Floyd due to his status as a convicted felon which prohibits him from possessing firearms.
When guns are seized in a case like this, first deputies have to determine ownership of each weapon. This is done by running serial numbers through the nationwide Automated Firearm System (AFS). But sometimes the same serial number can appear on more than one gun if they were manufactured by different companies. So if any more of the weapons come back as stolen, the Humboldt County sheriff's office will have to verify the weapons status by checking its make and model against other possible matches.
If the weapons can be proven stolen they'll try to locate and notify the registered owners, and new charges will be added to Floyd's case. But there are questions about what will happen to the guns that are not stolen.
"The stolen items will be returned to their rightful owners at that time if they can be legally possessed," said Lt. Knight. "The items that are not linked to any ownership, and in this case obviously with the suspect being a convicted felon, usually they're destroyed."
"Sometimes there are certain gun dealers that will give the sheriff's office credit which then saves taxpayer dollars when we buy weapons, where it's more of an exchange type of situation. That's more the rarity than the commonality, especially this day and age. The illegal weapons though - they're not going back on the streets," Lt. Knight said.
Garberville resident Ryan Floyd was already being held on a laundry list of charges involving narcotics and a handgun he was prohibited from possessing - but Lt. Knight says that additional charges are expected now that they've located the stash of more than 100 fire-arms.
Floyd's arraignment was originally scheduled for Feb. 11, but the court date has been changed to Feb. 20 according to the Humboldt County district attorney's office.
1. The MG42, pictured in front is a fully automatic belt-fed machine gun manufactured by the Nazis in World War II.
2. Humboldt County sheriff Mike Downey pictured in a room full of more than 100 guns seized on the Alderpoint property of suspect Ryan Floyd