Merced Multi-Agency Narcotics Task Force agents arrested a total of nine suspects on drug-related allegations this week after serving two separate search warrants in Hilmar and near Merced.
The task force seized nearly $15,000 in crystal methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine from a residence Thursday in the 20000 block of Fourth Street in Hilmar, according to Cmdr. Neil Comptson.
The service of the warrant, which happened around 11 a.m., was the culmination of a two-week investigation, Compston said. The task force arrested Ryan Oneal Sullivan, 25, of Hilmar, Zefrino Zepeda, 32, of Turlock, Hannah Steen, 20, of Hilmar and Krista Kelso, 30, of Hilmar.
During the bust, agents found 4.5 pounds of marijuana, an ounce of cocaine and 5.5 ounces of methamphetamine.
"Based on everything that we found there, that was a large source of drugs in Hilmar," Compston said.
Kelso, Zepeda, Sullivan and Steen were booked into Merced County Jail on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana for sale.
Sullivan was also booked on suspicion of maintaining a residence where drugs are used or sold.
On Wednesday, the task force seized 31 pounds of marijuana, with a street value of about $77,500, from a residence in the 5500 block of East Yosemite Avenue. The force also found about 80 marijuana plants, Compston said.
Five Merced-area residents were arrested at the scene: Xaysavath Khammany, 35, Buonom Keopadabxy, 63, Phanh Chanthathep, 78, Phayvanh Chanthathep, 28, and Sa Chanthathep, 61.
Compston said an investigation was launched after a resident walking on a canal bank reported being fired upon by someone inside the house.
Some of the suspects are blood relatives, Compston said. The operation was executed with help from the Merced/Mariposa HIDTA Task Force and Merced County Sheriff’s Department’s SWAT Team.
While serving the search warrant, the SWAT Team discovered three of the men trimming the marijuana. They were armed with a semiautomatic handgun and a loaded shotgun. A .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle was also found inside the house.
The two other men were spotted tending to a marijuana garden. Compston said the men were also using pit bull dogs to guard the garden.
The suspects were booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana and possession for sale of marijuana.
[TAIL_FL]Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[/TAIL_FL]