The house at 1371 Hillcrest Road has been an eyesore for over a year. Photo by John Chadwell.
The house at 1371 Hillcrest Road has been an eyesore for over a year. Photo by John Chadwell.

 A driveway on Hillcrest Road has been littered with motorcycles, cars, and trash for over a year but on Aug. 17 at 8:30 a.m., the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office served a warrant for drugs and guns at 1371 Hillcrest Road in Hollister. 

Three men were arrested: Matthew Richardson, 38, who is being charged with six felonies, Ryan Draeger, 41, who is being charged with 12 felonies, and Michael Smith, 26, who had felony warrants. The charges include possession of drugs, weapons, ammunition, and child endangerment.

Taylor said the residents were suspected of manufacturing firearms. At least two ghost guns, along with ammunition, stolen property, heroin, and methamphetamine were found.

“Deputy Hayden Turpin, who’s new to our office and came to us from Marin County, made a narcotics’ arrest approximately two weeks ago,” Taylor said. “Realizing there might be criminal activity at this location, he started an investigation of the people who live and occupy this place.”

Taylor said three children, two girls and a boy, were living in squalor inside the home.

“The outside was in better shape based on the trash and stench on the inside,” Taylor said, adding that child protective services had been contacted. There was also a dog that was running loose. Deputies caught it and animal control was called to pick it up.

Taylor said there were numerous code-enforcement violations, including manipulation of the main electrical panel, which he said made the house uninhabitable. County code enforcement red-tagged the house. The homeowner will need to make repairs before it can be inhabited again, he said.

As Sheriff Taylor spoke with BenitoLink, numerous drivers passing the scene honked and gave thumbs up to the deputies.



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John Chadwell worked as a feature, news and investigative reporter for BenitoLink on a freelance basis for seven years, leaving the role in Sept. 2023. Chadwell first entered the U.S. Navy right out of...