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Man leads CHP on chase at 100 mph

After two high-speed trips being pursued back and forth across Merced in the early morning hours, a 26-year-old San Francisco man was arrested by California Highway Patrol officers on drunken driving, drug and weapons charges.

Maurice Watts remained in Merced County Jail on Monday night in lieu of $52,000 bail, a correctional official said. Watts was arrested about 3 a.m. Sunday following an approximate 20-minute chase, Officer Shane Ferriera, CHP spokesman, said.

Ferriera said CHP officers Obed Macias and Eduardo Quintanar were taking a drunken driver to Merced County Jail about 2:36 a.m. when they noticed a silver 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix southbound on Highway 99 north of Buhach Road. The Pontiac was weaving and straddling traffic lanes.

The driver accelerated away from the patrol car's red lights and threw a gun and paper bag out the side window.

The Pontiac went south on the highway at speeds of more than 100 mph, exiting at the Campus Parkway exit and turning north. The car re-entered the highway at Childs Avenue, exited at Franklin Road, crossed city streets and got back on Highway 99 at R Street, Ferriera said.

After getting off at Childs Avenue, the Pontiac stopped in front of an apartment complex at 340 Parsons Ave. and Watts was arrested without incident.

Ferriera said a sawed-off shotgun was retrieved from the highway center median. He also said a small amount of marijuana and prescription marijuana were found in the car and on the driver. Watts was charged with felony evading arrest, drunken driving, possession of marijuana, possession of prescription marijuana without a prescription and being a felon in possession of a loaded shotgun.

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