Due to the fire last night July 12, 2018, Owners had to shut down the location for now until repairs are completed. This is what they said on their Facebook page to customers, “With very heavy hearts, we regret to inform our Almond Tree family and friends, the Tree will be closed until further notice, due to an electrical fire. We want to thank the fire fighters who responded so quickly to the situation.

They prevented the fire from not only spreading any further and assuring everyone’s safety but also keeping in contact with management on the situations status. The Almond Tree is a family owned and operated restaurant and as such our employees and customers are a part of our big extended family as well.

To see it empty at the moment due to these unforeseen circumstances breaks our hearts! However, we know with the support, loyalty, and understanding, that each one of you has shown us in the community on this night, we will all get through this rough time together until we can reopen our doors again!!!

Almond Tree management thanks you all, and will do what we can to update you on the progress of reopening as it approaches. Have a great weekend and stay safe!!!”


On July 11, 2018 at approximately 12:22 p.m., Officers responded to a park area near the intersection of 7th and G Street after a local landscaper and a City employee encountered a man armed with a handgun.

Two Officers arrived and encountered a man matching the description provided. During their contact with the man, he became uncooperative and failed to comply with basic commands given by the Officers.

At one point during the contact, the man told the Officers he was armed, indicating with his hand where the weapon was, along his waistline.

The Officers continued to give the man commands to raise his hands and to go to his knees, but he would not comply. Without warning, the man suddenly lifted his shirt and drew a handgun from his waistline. In response, one of the Officers fired one round at the man, striking him in the abdomen.

Emergency medical personnel responded and transported the man to the hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Investigators recovered a black replica handgun at the scene. Because this investigation is ongoing no further information will be released at this time.

To leave an anonymous crime tip call (209) 827-7070, ext. 288. If you have access to a computer and the internet you can leave an anonymous tip at the Police Department’s web page at At the bottom of the contact page simply click on the “report graffiti and other crime” link or contact the Merced Area Crime Stoppers by telephone at 1-855-725-2420, or at


The demolition of Rosalinda’s Gentlemen’s Club and Motel located along Hwy 108 in Jamestown began yesterday, four months after an undercover investigation culminating in a search warrant was conducted resulting in ten people being booked into the county jail.

Crews arrived this morning to continue with efforts focused on the building which once served as a strip club and found several transients asleep inside. Sheriff’s Deputies responded and cleared the building to assure there was no other people inside and it was safe to proceed with demolition. Crews will remain on the property throughout the week to clean up debris.

The owner and operator of the establishment, 78-year-old Rosalinda Aponte Sanmartin, was not at the business at the time of the warrant service but later turned herself in and was booked on numerous charges stemming from this investigation such as maintaining/operating a drug house, providing alcohol without proper permits, and possession and transportation of drugs for sale.

Agents of the Tuolumne Narcotics Team (TNT) with assistance of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office SWAT, Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office Detectives, Tuolumne County Probation, Child Welfare Services, and Tuolumne County Code Enforcement assisted in the investigation of the establishment where numerous health and building code violations were found.

The Operation was jointly launched by TNT and ABC in late 2017, after meeting together to discuss the host of calls for service, complaints, and violations that have taken place at the establishment over the years. 
In 2017 alone, Rosalinda’s Gentlemen’s Club generated over 50 calls for service that required a response from the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office. In the last five years, the club has generated almost 200 calls for service, many serious in nature such as the 2015 stabbing of one dancer by another at the establishment, and the recent rape investigation that was reported in November of 2017. Everything from assaults to sexual assaults, to code violations and thefts have been reported at this location over the years.

The search warrant was generated after several months of investigation into the Jamestown strip club in which illegal alcohol violations, California Code of Regulations violations, narcotics, and prostitution were investigated. During the investigation, narcotics were purchased on multiple occasions and prostitution was solicited from at least one exotic dancer employed at the club. Multiple ABC violations were also observed nightly by the undercover detectives.

Two weeks after the business was condemned, a fire ignited in the early morning hours in the hotel area and was fully engulfed in flames when CAL Fire arrived on scene. The flames then spread to the strip club, causing major damage. What ignited the fire is still currently under investigation.

Many Tuolumne County residents are relieved that the eye sore seen by highway travelers coming into the County will now be a thing of the past.


On July 8th, 2018 at approximately 8:24A.M., Merced Communication Center received a call of a roll over traffic collision with an ambulance responding to the scene on State Route 165/ Lander Avenue, south of Salt Slough. Officers from the California Highway Patrol Los Banos area office responded to the scene and investigated the collision.

During the course of the investigation, it was determined, female driver 27- year-old Renee Lopez McCoy, was driving a 2008 Honda Southbound on State Route 165 at an unknown speed according to CHP, according to the CHP traffic website an RP caller stated, that prior the the collision the Honda was traveling approximately 100 MPH.

For unknown reasons, McCoy allowed the Honda to drift towards the northbound State Route 165 traffic lane, then made an unsafe turning movement to the right causing the Honda to run off the west side of the roadway, colliding into a road sign wood post causing it to overturn, coming to rest on its wheels facing in a northwesterly direction within a dirt/grass area. As a result of this collision, McCoy sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Alcohol and/or drugs do not appear to have been a factor in this collision. This collision is still under investigation.

A Go-fund me account was created for McCoy please click on the following link to donate to help this family out.


On July 6, 2018 at approximately 5:03 p.m., police and fire responded to Skylark Park, 648 Meadowlark Avenue for a fire. When officers arrived they found the playground equipment to be fully involved in fire. The fire was put out by Los Banos Fire Department.

A witness told police she saw a young boy walking away from the park before officers arrived on scene. When officers searched the area, they located several fireworks within the surrounding bark.

The boy was later found and questioned by police.

If you have any information on this fire, please contact Sergeant Jesus Parras at (209) 827-7070, ext. 0.



Caltrans is preparing to begin an SB 1 funded 27-mile re-striping project — increasing the stripe size from 4 to 6 inches, with reflective material included — on northbound and southbound State Route 99 in Merced County.

These new 6-inch stripes improve the safety and mobility of the roadway for motorists, and the reflective material accounts for emerging transportation technology by allowing autonomous vehicles to better “see” the roadway.

To find more projects in your area, please visit


On July 4, 2018 at approximately 8:10 p.m., Los Banos police officers were dispatched to the 600 block of Winepress Street for a disturbance at a residence. Mariano Sanchez, 39 of Los Banos became upset with his estranged girlfriend and began hitting her vehicle with a board. Sanchez got into a white 1997 Ford Thunderbird and deliberately drove his vehicle into the back of his ex-girlfrind’s vehicle, forcing the parked vehicle through the closed garage door.

Two officers were on an unrelated call in the area and witnessed the incident. Sanchez fled past officers at a high rate of speed. Officers had their lights and sirens going as they attempted to catch up to Sanchez who fled south on Stonewood Drive. Sanchez slammed into a parked vehicle near the intersection of Stonewood Drive and Driftwood Avenue. Sanchez’ vehicle continued forward striking two additional parked vehicles and a fence before the vehicle was disabled and Sanchez was pinned inside.

Sanchez was transported by ambulance and treated for minor injuries as a result of the collision. Sanchez was released to officers for booking in the Merced County Jail hours later. Sanchez was booked on the charge of felony vandalism. He remains in custody in lieu of $5,000 bail and he could be facing additional charges.

We are asking anyone who may have witnessed the altercation in the 600 block of Winepress Street to contact officer Darren Cole at (209) 827-7070.


On July 2 at about 2:38 am, The Merced County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a missing person report. Deputies went to the area of the Cressey Bridge and Merced River in Ballico to contact the reporting party, Robert Apodoca.

It was reported that the missing person, identified as 37 year old Joshua Eugene Fox from Merced, was rafting with his friend on the river. They started floating down the river from the Shaffer Bridge on July 1, 2018 at about 3:00 pm and began consuming large amounts of alcohol.

During that time the two friends got separated somewhere between the Shaffer Bridge and Cressey Bridge.
Apodoca told deputies that after being separated from Fox, he began paddling his way upstream back towards Shaffer bridge. While doing so, his raft got a hole in it, and he had to walk the rest of the way back to Shaffer Bridge where his vehicle was located.

He got his vehicle, and drove to the Cressey Bridge with the hopes of meeting up with Fox. However, fox was nowhere to be found. At that point Apodoca called the Sheriff’s Office for help. The Merced County Sheriff’s Air Operation Unit was requested and after searching for about five minutes, located Joshua Fox stuck in the river a short distance from the Cressey Bridge.

With the assistance of the Air Operations Unit, Deputies were able to rescue Fox from the river and get him proper medical attention.


Jose Ibarra-Pineda is currently wanted by authorities in Merced County on a felony warrant for recurring sexual conduct with a child under the age of 14 years.

Ibarra-Pineda is described as 5’7” weighs 200 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. He is known to live in the city of Los Banos and may be a truck driver.

If you know where Ibarra-Pineda is hiding contact Merced Area Crime Stoppers. You never have to identify yourself and if he is arrested because of your information, you will be eligible for a secret cash reward.


Over the weekend, Sheriff Vern Warnke and the Merced County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit located a large illegal marijuana grow in the 4200 block of Merced Falls Road in Snelling. When deputies arrived at the residence they located two large crudely made green houses filled with marijuana plants. Additionally, Sergeant Ray Framstad located a Butane Honey Oil (BHO) oven, processing center, and several pressurized butane canisters at the residence. Due to the complex dangers of removing the wax from the pressurized oven, Sergeant Framstad contacted the local task force and Fresno HIDTA to break down the BHO lab.

Fresno’s High Impact Investigation team responded and broke down the manufacturing room with the help of MAGNET. Investigators recovered 1.76 pounds of concentrated cannabis with a value of approximately $60 per gram or $50,000 total.

BHO is a wax concentrated cannabis extract made by pushing liquid butane (which liquefies easily) through a tube packed with frosty buds. The resulting solution is a mix of concrete oils, waxes, cannabinoids, terpenoids, and sometimes chlorophyll.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Office Arrested 27-year-old Ryan Wood and 28-year-old Brittany Martinez and they were charged with HS 11358 (marijuana cultivation) and HS11359 (possession for sales).