Press Releases

Press Release - UPD Case #24-0940 - Found Ghost Gun & Controlled Substance

Date: 05/12/2024
Location: Wells Fargo Bank (717 South State Street, Ukiah)
Victims: People of the State of California.
Suspects: Joseph Ornelas, Twenty-year-old Ukiah male.
Violations: 11370.1(a) H&S- Possession of a loaded firearm and a controlled substance (Felony).
11550(e) H&S – Possession of a loaded firearm while under the influence of a controlled substance (Felony).
25850(C)(6) PC- Possession of a loaded unregistered firearm (Felony).
25400(C)(6) PC- Conceal loaded unregistered firearm (Felony).
11364(a) H&S- Possession of drug paraphernalia (Misdemeanor).


On 05/12/2024, at approximately 1:50pm, Ukiah Police Department (UPD) Officers were dispatched to the parking lot of the Wells Fargo Bank at 717 South State Street for a report of a male that was asleep behind the wheel of a running vehicle.


UPD Officers arrived on scene and found Joseph Ornelas unconscious behind the wheel of his minivan, which was idling. UPD Officers awoke Ornelas and immediately suspecting him of being under the influence of drugs and or alcohol. Ornelas’ eyes were bloodshot and watery, his speech was slow, his movement was lethargic, and he appeared disoriented.


A UPD Officer asked Ornelas to step out of the vehicle, and initiated a pat search of Ornelas’ person to ensure that he was not armed with any dangerous weapons. During the pat search, the Officer felt what he recognized as a drug smoking device in a small pouch that was attached to Ornelas’ waist band. Ornelas confirmed that the object was a glass pipe used for smoking methamphetamine.


An Officer removed the pouch from Ornelas’ waist and confirmed that it contained drug paraphernalia, as well as several small baggies of suspected methamphetamine. Ornelas was detained, and during a probable cause search of Ornelas’ vehicle, UPD Officers located a loaded .45 caliber handgun underneath the driver’s seat. The handgun was what was commonly referred to as a “ghost gun,” which is an un-serialized and untraceable firearm that has usually been assembled with a kit. There are additional penalties in the state of California forbringing a loaded unregistered firearm into public, because when these firearms are used in the commission of crimes, they are untraceable.


The UPD Officer who arrested Ornelas performed field sobriety tests on Ornelas and determined that he was under the influence of a controlled substance. Ornelas was placed under arrest for being in possession of a controlled substance while armed with a loaded firearm, being under the influence of a controlled substance while armed with a loaded firearm, possession of a loaded unregistered firearm, concealing a loaded unregistered firearm, and possession of drug paraphernalia.


As always, UPD’s mission is to make Ukiah as safe a place as possible, and we are grateful for the help that we received from the concerned citizen who called this incident in before anyone was harmed. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cellphone, and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website; www.ukiahpolice.com.

Download: 24-0940.pdf