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Car chase leads to crash, drug arrest in downtown Merced

Francisco Alvarez, 28, of Atwater, was arrested Wednesday afternoon on felony drug charges following a short pursuit and vehicle crash in downtown Merced.

Alvarez was treated for minor injuries at the Community Campus of Mercy Medical Center Merced after the Jeep Cherokee he was driving hit a telephone pole in a Main Street alley. He was then booked into Merced County Jail where he remained Wednesday night in lieu of $62,250 bail, according to a correctional official.

Deputy Kevin Blake, a member of the Sheriff's Tactical and Reconnaissance team, said a search warrant served at a home in the 3400 block of Manchester Avenue in Atwater yielded 120 grams of crystal methamphetamine in two separate packages, sales ledgers detailing drug sales, digital scales and packaging materials, along with $10,000 in cash believed to be proceeds from drug sales.

Blake said Alvarez was not at home in Atwater when the warrant was served about noon but was located about 2:45 p.m. at Main and H streets in Merced where the pursuit began. The air bag deployed when Alvarez' sport-utility vehicle hit the pole at about 30 mph and he ran.

Blake said Alvarez resisted arrest and was Tasered by Deputy Dustin Witt. Another $1,000 in cash was found on Alvarez when he was arrested.

Alvarez was charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of meth for sales, maintaining a residence where drugs are used or sold, obstructing a police officer and battery against a spouse, Blake said.

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