Police arrest three on drug-related charges

Three people were arrested on drug charges late Friday in two separate incidents, according to Lt. Roger McIntyre of the Merced Police Department.

Arturo Bustamonte, 42, of Merced was arrested at 6:52 p.m. in the 1000 block of West 22nd Street after police got a call of several men smoking narcotics in the front yard of a residence.

Officers Jeff Horn and Keith Rieg reported smelling freshly burned marijuana near the apartment. Horn found a partially smoked marijuana cigarette just inside the front door. Horn found four individually packaged bindles of methamphetamine weighing about 2.7 grams in Bustamonte's left front pants pocket, McIntyre said.

Bustamonte was booked into Merced County Jail on charges of possession, sales and transportation of meth.

In an unrelated incident at 11:12 p.m. in the 1700 block of I Street, Salvador Perez, 36, and Leonel Zapien, 33, both of Merced, were arrested on charges of possession and transportation of cocaine and booked into Merced County Jail.

Horn was on patrol near G and West 16th streets when he noticed a white Dodge Dakota make an illegal U-turn.

During a search of Perez, Horn found a dollar bill that had been folded into a small bindle in his right front coin pocket. Looking inside the bindle Horn found an off-colored light pink powder, which he identified as possible cocaine, McIntyre said.

Officer Jobe Sandhagen also located a dollar bill folded in the same manner in Zapien's right front coin pocket. Looking inside the bindle Sandhagen found the same type powder and believed that it was possible cocaine.

Both packages of the narcotics weighed approximately 2.8 grams, McIntyre said.

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