Hand grenade, firearms, drugs found during search of Planada home

PLANADA -- Two men were taken into custody Friday in the 9000 block of Stanford Avenue on suspicion of possession of a destructive device -- a hand grenade -- and possession of a controlled substance for sale.

The hand grenade was found by the Merced Police Department's gang violence suppression unit and the Merced County Sheriff's Department when they were conducting a search of two homes where they believed Norteño gang members were selling drugs. Samao Reynaldo, 18, and Julian Cortinas, 35, both of Planada, were arrested at the second home. Reynaldo was arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance for sale and is a documented Norteño gang member, according to Merced Police Lt. Tom Trindad. Cortinas was arrested on suspicion of possession of a destructive device.

The gang unit had learned that Norteño gang members were living in two residences in the Planada area and had secured a search warrant to search those residences, he said.

In one house, they found 6 ounces of methamphetamine and more than $3,000 in cash, said Trindad. In the second house, officers located two firearms and a hand grenade, he said. The Merced Bomb Squad was called. "They determined it was an active explosive. The bomb unit had to destroy it on scene for safety reasons," Trindad said.

Anybody with information on the case should contact Sgt. Chris Goodwin at (209) 385-6288 or the Merced Police Department tip line at (209) 385-4725.

Reporter Ameera Butt can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or abutt@mercedsun-star.com.