LANCASTER – Three people were busted recently for stealing a Black Angus bull and 14 head of cattle in Oklahoma and then transporting the animals to a Lancaster ranch in a stolen stock trailer.
Santos Zapata, 23, of Lancaster, Ryan Ross, 30, of Arkansas and Lucia Castillo, 34, of Missouri were arrested last week for animal cruelty and vehicle theft. All three suspects will be sent back to Oklahoma where they will face criminal charges, officials said.
The following is the press report from the Lancaster Station:
Lancaster Station detective Williams was contacted by a “Brand Inspector” from the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture, Bureau of Livestock Identification around 6:30 p.m., Tuesday (10/23).
The inspector told Williams that he was investigating a case of livestock theft that had occurred in the state of Oklahoma on Friday (10/19).
The incident began when the three suspects allegedly used a fraudulent check to purchase a “Black Angus” bull from a rancher in Oklahoma.
The trio then drove to a nearby stock auction where they used another fraudulent check to buy an additional 14 head of cattle. After loading all of the animals into a stock trailer, the suspects began their modern day “Cattle Drive” back to California.
The brand inspector told Williams that the suspects’ truck had been traced to a ranch in the 45300 block of 60th Street West, Lancaster.
When Williams and other officers met the inspector at the ranch, they saw the suspects attempting to leave the location in the truck with the stock trailer in tow.
All three of the suspects were detained.
During the investigation, the inspector learned that the suspects had sold the 14 head of cattle on Monday (10/22) at two separate stock auctions in Riverside and Bakersfield.
During the inspection of the property, the deputies found the Black Angus bull lying on the ground inside a corral. The bull was badly injured and appeared to have suffered a broken back.
Animal Control officers and a local veterinarian were called to the scene to evaluate the bull’s injuries. It was determined that the bull was in a significant amount of pain. Due to his injuries he was immediately euthanized by the Veterinarian.
The deputies also discovered that the license plate, mounted on the stock trailer the suspects used to transport the stolen animals, had been stolen from a vehicle in Kern County. After further investigation, they learned that the trailer had been reported stolen in the state of Arkansas.
Arrested were, Santos Zapata, Lancaster, Ryan Ross, Arkansas and Lucia Castillo, Missouri. All three are facing charges of animal cruelty and vehicle theft.
Their court date has been set for Friday, November 9. Additionally, all three suspects will be sent back to the state of Oklahoma where they will face criminal charges.