Deputies: Two dope dealers swindled

SANTA NELLA -- Things didn't go as planned Monday morning for two Bay Area men who allegedly attempted to sell some marijuana to another man, according to Merced County Sheriff's Department reports.

The two men ended up getting tied up and robbed of $200 by three men, Deputy Paul Barile, department spokesman, said. They later called 911 and dispatchers alerted Sheriff's Deputy Dave Verderber about the robbery. Verderber ultimately couldn't locate any marijuana.

Barile said Oscar Gonzalez, 27, of Petaluma, and Juan Arteguin, 33, of Santa Rosa were enroute from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles when they stopped for gas and parked next to a man in a dark blue pickup truck at a Santa Nella convenience store at Highway 33 and Plaza Road.

The two men reportedly offered the man in the truck some marijuana and he accepted the offer, according to Barile.

Arteguin and Gonzalez followed the man four miles north of Santa Nella to a barn in an orchard. That's when two other men, including one armed with a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun, tied them up with a white cord and took $200 in cash. The two men were able to free themselves and report the robbery to Verderber.

Since no marijuana was found during a search of their vehicle, Arteguin and Gonzalez were not arrested, Barile said.

The robbers are described as a Latino man, about 30 years old, 5 feet, 5 inches tall with a skinny build and short black hair. His companion was a heavyset Latino man in his 40s, about 5 feet, 4 inches tall with curly black hair. The third suspect was a Latino male about 35 years of age but no further description was available, Barile said.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or dyawger@mercedsun-star.com">dyawger@mercedsun-star.com.