September 26, 2010

Deputies arrest five juveniles on marijuana and other charges after 100-mph chase in Merced

The Merced County Sheriff's Office reported the arrest of five juveniles on susipicion of stealing marijuana and other allegations after a 100-mph pursuit in the Beachwood area left the juveniles' vehicle totaled and several patrol cars rammed.

Around 4:30 a.m. Saturday, Deputy Larry Hudec was on patrol when he saw a 2001 Burgundy Nissan Altima make an illegal U-turn on Dan Ward Road and take off at a high rate of speed, after the juveniles saw the patrol car.

Hudec pursued the vehicle, speeds reaching 100 mph on Santa Fe Drive, and was joined by several deputies, according to sheriff's spokesman Tom MacKenzie. The driver drove into the on-coming lane of traffic on Olive Avenue in Merced at speeds of 70 mph, before pulling into a cul-de-sac on Juneau Court.

The driver then aimed his vehicle at Deputy Hugo Bucio's patrol car, ramming into it. After careening off of his unit, the driver then rammed into Deputy Tim Goncalves' unit, causing him to crash into Sgt. Scott Dover's unit, MacKenzie said.

The occupants of the Altima, five juveniles, were then taken into custody after their car was totaled. Inside the vehicle deputies found a large amount of marijuana. All five juvenile males, ages 16, 13, 17, 14 and 17, were booked into Juvenile Hall on suspicion of felony evading a peace officer, assault with a deadly weapon, possession and possession for sale of marijuana with gang enhancements. They are being held without bail.

Just after midnight, Hudec took a theft report of juveniles cutting a hole in a fence and stealing marijuana plants from a medicinal marijuana grow site in the Merced area. It's still unknown if the marijuana in the Altima is the same marijuana that was reported stolen.

MacKenzie said the marijuana in the car was still green and wet and one plant looked as if it had been just pulled from the ground. Investigators are trying to determine if the two incidents are related.

-- Sun-Star staff

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