All photos courtesy of Merced CHP
Originally published 7-22-23 via Facebook
by Merced CHP:
“Merced County , Calif. – On July 21, 2023, a traffic stop by a California Highway Patrol (CHP) K-9 officer led to the largest narcotics seizure in Merced County history. Luis Felipe Ponce Rosales, 23, of Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico, was arrested and booked into the Los Banos City Jail on various drug related charges.
On Friday, July 21, 2023, at approximately 1:00 p.m., a CHP Central Division K-9 officer conducted an enforcement stop on a 2014 Kia Soul for a traffic violation. The stop occurred on northbound Interstate 5, at the Santa Nella Scales, in Merced County. During the contact, the officer noted several factors that led him to believe the driver and passenger were engaged in criminal activity. The CHP K-9 officer deployed his canine partner “Luna” on the exterior of the Kia. Luna gave a positive alert to the odor of narcotics emitting from the vehicle. As officers were preparing to search the Kia, the driver fled the scene into a nearby almond orchard. With the assistance of the Merced County Sheriff’s Department and CHP – Central Division Air Operations, an extensive search was conducted. The driver was not located; however, he was positively identified by evidence retrieved from within the Kia. A search of the Kia revealed the following:
735,000 fentanyl laced pills, approximate weight 161 pounds, 133 pounds of methamphetamine, and 37 pounds of cocaine.
The Merced Area Gang Narcotics Enforcement Team (MAGNET) was requested and responded to assist with the investigation. MAGNET agents took custody of the passenger, Ponce Rosales, and narcotics. Following an interview, Ponce Rosales was booked into the Los Banos City Jail on the following charges: possession of methamphetamine for sale, transportation of methamphetamine across noncontiguous counties, possession of cocaine/fentanyl for sale, and transportation of cocaine/fentanyl across noncontiguous counties.
The mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security.”