Three validated gang members were arrested Saturday on suspicion of illegal gun possession and additional charges, according to Merced police.
Officer Rey Alvarez and officer Moses Nelson of the Merced Police Department Gang Violence Suppression Unit were patrolling the area of Loughborough Drive and Meadows Avenue about 4 p.m. when they saw a white vehicle with three occupants at the stop sign on Meadows Avenue, according to Sgt. Chris Goodwin.
When the driver made a left turn onto Loughborough Drive, police say he nearly caused an accident by cutting in front of a vehicle going westbound. The officers tried to pull the car over, but the driver didn't immediately stop, police said.
Police believe the driver was attempting to stall the officers to allow the front passenger, Sergio Uriostegui, 23, enough time to throw a loaded firearm out the window. The suspect was unable to throw the gun, however, and the driver eventually pulled over on Pierre Court.
Additional GVSU officers responded to assist with the stop. All three of the occupants were detained, and the officers found a stolen loaded firearm in the waistband of Rafael Lopez, 26, of Merced. The loaded firearm police say Uriostegui was trying to throw out the window was found between the front passenger seat and the door, where he was sitting. Both firearms were reported as stolen.
Uriostegui was on probation and wearing a GPS ankle monitor at the time of the stop. Uriostegui was booked at the Merced County Jail on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm, being a felon in possession of ammunition, having a concealed loaded firearm, possession of stolen property, participation in a criminal street gang and a probation hold.
Lopez, who is on parole, was booked on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm, being a felon in possession of ammunition, having a concealed loaded firearm, possession of stolen property, participation in a criminal street gang and having an open container of alcohol.
Dominick Evans, 26, the driver of the vehicle, was booked on suspicion of allowing the two passengers to have loaded firearms, participation in a criminal street gang and several vehicle code infractions.