THEFT SUSPECT COMMITS ARSON AT ATWATER TARGET, POLICE ASK HELP TO IDENTIFY SUSPECT

On August 7, 2018 at 909PM Atwater Police & Cal Fire were dispatched to the Super Target in the 1000 block of Commerce Ave on a report of a fire inside the store. Target Personnel & customers had already been evacuated by store staff when emergency crews arrived.

The interior of the Target was filled with a large amount of smoke. Cal Fire personnel extinguished the fire. No one was injured during this incident.

Target Loss Prevention Surveillance observed the suspect described as being a Hispanic Male Adult in his late 30’s to mid 40s wearing a grey striped tank top,and blue pants. The suspect had a shaved head and a large mustache. The male was seen pushing a shopping cart throughout the grocery area and filing it with merchandise.

At one point he goes out of view into the toilet paper aisle. A short time later he is seen leaving that isle without the cart and exiting the store. The fire is discovered shortly after.

The subject is seen leaving Target and is observed on surveillance video entering Walmart. The Atwater Police Department and Cal Fire Arson Investigators need the public’s assistance in identifying the male pictured. Anyone with information about this crime can call the Atwater Police Department at (209) 357-6396 or contact the Merced Area Crimestoppers at 1-855-725-2420, or go to mercedareacrimestoppers.org to send anonymous information via text or email.

HE IS WANTED IN MERCED COUNTY, FOR DOMESTIC ABUSE CHARGES

Marcus Taylor is currently wanted by authorities in Merced County on a felony warrant issued out of State of California Superior Court, Merced County that has NO BAIL. The charges include revocation of probation on prior charges of domestic abuse, corporal injury to spouse/cohabitant, and violation of a court order to prevent domestic violence.

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VALLEY CRIME STOPPERS WANTED PERSON, MERCED COUNTY

Nicholas Valencia is currently wanted by authorities in Merced County on three felony warrants issued out of State of California Superior Court, Merced County. These warrants have NO BAIL and are for Violation of Probation on charges that include driving under the influence, more driving under the influence causing injury, and having a concealed weapon in a vehicle.

Nicholas Valencia is described as 5’ 8” in height and weighs approximately 223 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He has a tattoo of the Atwater water tower on his right forearm. He is known to live most recently in the area of the City of Atwater.

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

POLICE STILL LOOKING FOR MAN, FOR BEHEADING GIRLFRIEND

Jacob Gonzales, age 34, is wanted for the violent beheading death of Katherine E. Cunningham out of Island County, Washington, and a 1 MILLION DOLLAR BAIL is current issued for his arrest. the Merced Area CrimeStoppers wants to help and if you want to help and choose to remain anonymous, utilize the tip line.

You can also contact Washington State authorities where an additional reward is available upon the arrest and/or conviction of GONZALES. See the contact information below. Katherine was a local graduate of Buhach Colony High School and was a friend to residents in the area.

The Island County Sheriff’s Office in Washington, is seeking information as to the whereabouts of Jacob Gonzales. Gonzales has ties to the Merced County/Los Banos area in California and it is believed that he may currently be there.

Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Jacob Gonzales is asked to report it the local law enforcement in the area he is prior to providing the information to the Island County Sheriff’s Office.
Gonzales is a Hispanic male, 5’9 inches tall, 150 pounds with black hair and hazel eyes, he may have shaved his head and/or facial hair in an attempt to hide his identity.

Jacob Gonzales is believed to be armed and dangerous we ask that the public not approach him.
Anyone who wishes to provide information regarding the case should contact Detective Ed Wallace via the ICOM dispatch center at 360-679-9567 or tips@co.island.wa.us. Or the Island County Sheriff’s Office at 360-678-4422.

AGAIN, IF YOU SEE GONZALES CALL CRIMESTOPPERS AT 1-855-725-2420 or text “MERCED” AND YOUR TIP INFO TO # 274637 . HELP FIND JUSTICE FOR KATHERINE.

GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS GENTLEMAN’S CLUB DEMOLISHED

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.

THIS IS HOW THE PLAYGROUND CAUGHT ON FIRE YESTERDAY

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.

MERCED COUNTY MOST WANTED, SEXUAL CONDUCT WITH 14-YEAR-OLD

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.

MERCED POLICE ARREST 22-YEAR-OLD FOR SELLING ILLEGAL FIREWORKS

On Wednesday, June 27th, 2018, the Merced Police Department’s Disruptive Area Response Team (DART) officers responded to a Craigslist advertisement selling illegal fireworks. DART officers met with Christopher Hamby at The Home Depot  parking lot in the city of Merced. Officers arrested Christopher Hamby (22) of Turlock, Ca.

Hamby was arrested for selling illegal fireworks, possession of illegal fireworks and advertisement of illegal fireworks. Hamby was booked at the Merced County Jail.

Merced Police are asking anyone with any information regarding this crime to contact Sgt. Solis at (209) 385-4703 or the Merced PD Tipster Line at (209) 385-4725. The public can send information via anonymous text messages to police department by dialing “TIP411” (847411) and including the word “Comvip” as the “keyword” in the text message.

MERCED SHERIFF’S DESTROY MARIJUANA, SEIZE 8 GUNS

Sergeant Ray Framstad and the Merced County Sheriff’s Office Marijuana Enforcement Team were busy on Saturday serving six (6) search warrants throughout the county. During the search warrants, the Marijuana Enforcement Team eradicated 3887 marijuana plants, destroyed 115 pounds of finished product, and seized eight (8) guns.

Sheriff Vern Warnke wants to remind everyone that the Merced County Sheriff’s Office will be enforcing the cultivation laws regarding marijuana that the county has put in place starting in 2018. All outdoor marijuana grows are illegal and will be dealt with immediately and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Additionally, you are only allowed to grow 6 plants indoors. If you have questions about the laws regarding cultivation and possession of marijuana, please call the Merced County Sheriff’s Office 209-385-7445.

The new County Cannabis Ordinance details are as follows:
***Personal Cultivation Restrictions reasonably regulated (Ord. 9.29.060):
***Personal use cannabis plants limited from twelve (12) to six (6)
***Cultivation can occur in either 1) within a single private residence; or 2) inside a fully enclosed and secure structure located upon the grounds of a private residence. Outdoor cultivation of any type, on any parcel is prohibited.
***Cultivation must comply with Building and Construction Code, Title 16.
Cultivation cannot be conducted in a manner that constitutes a public nuisance.
***Enforcement – penalty/consequences for noncompliance unchanged from previous Medical Marijuana Cultivation ordinance
***Administrative Penalties for unlawful cannabis cultivation(Ordinance 9.29.083)
***All violations deemed a misdemeanor; Sheriff has ability to abate unlawful cannabis cultivation (Ord. 9.29.200)

PLANADA DRUG STORE BURGLARY, CHASE ENDS IN SACRAMENTO

On May 30, 2018 at about 2:21 am, Deputy Chris Chilton with the Merced County Sheriff’s Office received a call to the San Joaquin Drug Store in Planada regarding a burglar alarm going off. Deputy Chilton arrived a short time later and saw a silver BMW on Sutter Ave driving slowly near the drugstore.

Two subjects were seen running on Sutter Ave near the vehicle and were picked up shortly after spotting Deputy Chilton’s patrol vehicle. Deputy Chilton attempted to stop the vehicle near the Valero gas station and the BMW failed to stop and a vehicle pursuit was initiated.

Deputies pursued the vehicle from Planada to Merced onto Highway 140 with speeds reaching 90 MPH. Deputies followed the vehicle onto north bound Hwy 99 and continued the pursuit until the California Highway Patrol (CHP) took it over in Livingston at Hammett Ave.

Deputies dropped out of the pursuit and returned to San Joaquin Drug Store to continue the investigation. Deputies learned the business had been burglarized and several opiate pharmaceuticals were taken. Deputies located a garbage can full of medication in the alleyway of Bigler and Sutter Ave. Deputies recovered more pharmaceutical medication in the field behind the store on Bigler Ave which made up most of what was stolen according to the owner of the store. A large yellow crowbar and one of the suspect’s phones was found inside the business.

Sacramento CHP later advised they were able to get the BMW stopped at Hwy 99 and Mingo Road in Sacramento. CHP used spike strips on a few different occasions to disable the vehicle and arrested four (4) occupants. The subjects arrested were a female driver indentified as 23-year-old Christina Gamez from Mendota, 21-year-old Andrion Navarrete Mendoza from Fresno, and 19-year-old Miguel Valencia from Fresno.

The fourth subject was a 17-year-old Hispanic male juvenile from Fresno. All subjects have been arrested and booked into the Merced county jail and juvenile correctional center.