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Man suspected of stealing D.A. vehicle now in custody

Jack Daniels is in the jug.

A 21-year-old man from La Crosse, Kan., not the famous whiskeymaker's namesake, was arrested early Monday morning at a house in the 7000 block of G Street in Merced after two years of being sought on warrants for auto theft, narcotics and probation violation.

Daniels, on Merced County's Most Wanted list, returned to Merced for a funeral and was arrested without resistance by the Merced County Sheriff's Department Special Tactics and Reconnaissance team, according to Deputy Kevin Blake. He was found sleeping in the back of a green Ford Explorer with Kansas license plates.

Deputy Paul Barile, sheriff's department spokesman, said Daniels was responsible for the theft of a Merced County District Attorney investigator's county vehicle two years ago. He reportedly drove the stolen car for a day, then stripped it. The car was found in an orchard behind the former Castle Air Force Base.

Daniels remained bottled up in Merced County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bail, according to a correctional official. Warrants charge him with possession of methamphetamine, giving a false name to an officer, fleeing from police officers in a vehicle, driving without a license and auto theft.

Blake said Daniels had been working a job in the Kansas oil fields and had been visiting Merced for several days. La Crosse, Kan., near Hays, lists itself as the "Barbed Wire Capital of the World." There is no word on the whereabouts of I.W. Harper.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or