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Wild Afternoon for Deputies: K9 Brinks Discovers $20,000 in Meth as LCSO Arrests Three on Multiple Charges

LCSO K9 Officer Brinks with meth seized Wednesday afternoon. Good doggie! – LCSO Photo

It was a wild afternoon for Lassen County Sheriff’s Deputies who were in the process of arresting two men for vehicle theft and drug possession at a mobile home park just west of Susanville when they discovered a second, unrelated crime in progress, leading to a wild foot-pursuit down the side of the Susan River Canyon.

According to LCSO Captain Kevin Jones, Deputies located an unoccupied stolen vehicle parked at the Rocky Crest Mobile Home Park, just outside of Susanville, at around 4:50 Wednesday afternoon. The Toyota Camry had been reported stolen from the Herlong area in May of this year.

Deputies observed as two men got in the stolen vehicle and began to drive away, immediately stopping the car while still in the mobile home park.

The two men were identified by the Sheriff’s Office as 34-year old Susanville resident Steven Joseph, and 29-year old Susanville resident Ameko Vaimasanuu, Jr.

“In addition to both possessing controlled substances,” explained Captain Jones, “Deputies discovered several items in the vehicle that suggested identity theft crimes along with forged and altered checks. Joseph and Vaimasanuu were both arrested at the scene.”

A second unrelated crime in progress

While on-scene investigating the stolen Camry, Deputies were alerted to a possible burglary in progress at an adjacent residence inside the trailer park.

As Deputies approached the home a man ran from inside the trailer in attempt to escape. He ran down a steep embankment south of the mobile home park with multiple law enforcement personnel in pursuit. After a brief chase, 38-year old Oceanside resident Gary Bartlett was taken into custody.

Bartlett, according to the Sheriff’s Office, is on probation out of San Diego County.

As their investigation continued, Detectives and Deputies were able to confirm that Bartlett was in the residence at the trailer park in commission of a burglary.

“Assisting in the investigation was LCSO K9 Brinks and his handler Deputy Dustin Russell,” said Captain Jones. “Brinks alerted to Bartlett’s vehicle which led to a search that produced approximately one-half pound of methamphetamine and packaging materials.”

The street value of the methamphetamine is estimated by LCSO to be almost $20,000.

The three males were eventually booked into the Lassen County Jail on for the listed violations:

Steven Joseph – Vehicle Theft, Possession of Stolen Property, Possession of a Controlled Substance, bail $30,000.

Ameka Vaimasanuu – Vehicle Theft, Possession of Stolen Property, Possession of Controlled Substance, bail $30,000.

Gary Bartlett – Burglary, Possession of Controlled Substance for Sale, Resisting Arrest, Possession of Controlled Substance, bail $60,000.

Bartlett is also being held on a probation violation from San Diego County.

“We would like to thank and commend all the Deputies and Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office who led both these investigations, along with the Officers who assisted from Cal Fire, Bureau of Land Management and California Department of Justice,” said Captain Jones.

“This was an incredible group effort of multiple law enforcement agencies, resulting in positive results and a substantial amount of drugs removed from our community.”

Gary Bartlett in an LCSO booking photo

Steven Joseph in an LCSO booking photo
Ameka Vaimasanuu in an LCSO booking photo
Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso Publisher/Editor


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