Monterey County

Salinas community advocate arrested on drug and gun charges, police say

Salinas community advocate arrested in drug bust

SALINAS, Calif. - As interns learned to explore their potential inside MILPA, which stands for Motivating Individual Leadership for Public Advancement, the nonprofits co-founder Raul Tapia, sat behind bars.

"It feels crazy," said Juan Gomez, MILPA director of programs and innovation.

Salinas Police said Tapia was pulled over Wednesday evening because his car had no license plates.

"When they approached the driver side window they could smell the odor of marijuana and could see narcotics in plain view in the center console of the car," said Salinas Police Commander Sheldon Bryan.

Police said they then searched the car, found meth and more than $3,000 in Tapia's pockets, indicating he was selling drugs.

"Based on that they arrested the driver, brought him to the station and then wrote a search warrant for his residence," said Bryan.

At his home on the 400 block of Riker Street, officers said they found guns, six grams of base cocaine and 44 grams of meth.

"Everytime we get a drug dealer off the street it hopefully limits the amount of violence that we see, limits the amount of narcotics that are on the streets," said Sheldon.

MILPA directors told KION they are shocked. They said Tapia was a stand-up guy with a mission of helping Salinas youth get out of violence and poverty.    

"He was really working through all his aspirations, he had got into UC Santa Cruz," said Gomez.

They said he was fired this spring for reasons they cannot go into. Officials also said they believe Tapia started engaging in criminal activity after he left the organization.

"After he was let go from here we don't know at what point he began these activities and go against  what MILPA's mission truly is," said Jesus Valenzuela with Building Healthy Communities.

But officials say as devastating as this news is, they are determined to move forward and their mission will continue strong.

"There's a lot of buzz and stuff like that but for us we got to keep on with the positive messaging," said Gomez.

MILPA told KION the have not talked to Tapia since he left the organization.

We looked into Tapia's record and found out he has a rap sheet including assault with a deadly weapon and burglary.

ORIGINAL STORY: A Salinas community advocate is facing numerous felony charges after a traffic stop and search of his home Wednesday night, according to Salinas Police.

Police said Raul Gonzalo Tapia, 38, was pulled over in the 400 block of Riker St., driving a car without license plates. Officers said the car smelled like marijuana and a small container with drugs was on the center console in plain view.

Police said Tapia's car was searched and three ounces of methamphetamine were discovered along with $3,000 in his pocket. Later a search warrant was issued at Tapia's home and officers said they found a rifle, a shotgun, a replica pistol with real gun parts installed, 6 grams of cocaine and 44 grams of meth.

Police said Tapia was taken to the Monterey County Jail on drug charges and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Last year, Tapia spoke with KION representing MILPA, a local group which states it advocates for social transformation, according to the MILPA website.

Tapia also spoke with KION reporters in 2015 about the need for community healing, following four officer-involved shootings in Salinas.

KION has placed a call to MILPA for a response. As of Thursday afternoon, the Monterey County Jail said Tapia is still in custody.

Maya Holmes is working on this story and will have much more at 5 & 6.

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