Berkeley police seized firearms and ammunition during a search last week. Photo: BPD

Berkeley police investigators turned up five loaded firearms and armor-piercing bullets during a warrant search at the home of an Emeryville felon last week, according to authorities and court documents.

Police arrested 39-year-old Ernie Vegas on Thursday after following up on an investigation into a gun transaction, according to BPD.

Homicide detectives served the search warrant in the 4300 block of Essex Street in Emeryville, said Officer Byron White, Berkeley police spokesman. Investigators arrested Vegas at 11 a.m., according to jail records online.

During the search, police found five loaded firearms, including handguns and two assault weapons. Police also discovered hundreds of rounds of ammunition, including a 100-round drum loaded with armor-piercing rounds, which are illegal.

“All of the firearms were loaded and Detectives recovered over 140 rounds of pistol ammunition and over 180 rounds of rifle ammunition. 60 of the recovered rifle rounds were armor piercing rounds,” according to court papers.

Vegas “admitted to buying all the guns off the streets” and “admitted he should not possess guns but stated he does so for protection,” according to court documents.

Tuesday, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Vegas with nine felonies related to possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of ammunition and possession of armor-piercing rounds, according to court documents.

His past convictions include robbery and firearm possession, and date back nearly 20 years.

Vegas remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin on $535,000 bail. His next court appearance was not listed in online records as of publication time.

Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...