The Merced County Sheriff's Department arrested four people after serving a search warrant and finding evidence of meth use and children playing in the same house where the drug was being smoked.
The sheriff's STAR Team served the warrant at about 8:45 p.m. Friday in a trailer park on the 2000 block of Ashby Road, according to the sheriff's department. The bust came after a two-week investigation into the sale of methamphetamine.
Suspects arrested include Robert Christensen, 24, Santiago Delgado, 40, Misty Mudget, 35, and Yolanda Birrueta, 32.
Birrueta's two children, a 9-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy, were found playing in the living room of the house while two of the suspects, Christensen and Delgado, were found in a cloud of methamphetamine smoke in a back room with the door open, according to Deputy Tom MacKenzie, spokesman for the sheriff's department.
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The children were turned over to Child Protective Services, he said.
All the suspects arrested are from Merced, MacKenzie said. Delgado is a convicted felon who was deported, but has since returned.
When the STAR Team searched the house, deputies found about 2.5 ounces of methamphetamine, packaging materials, scales and about 3 grams of marijuana, MacKenzie said.
Based on the amount of drugs and packaging materials, methamphetamine was likely being sold, he said.
Delgado was booked on charges of possession and possession for sale of methamphetamine, child endangerment, possession for sale of marijuana and maintaining a residence for the purpose of selling narcotics, MacKenzie said. He remains without bail on an immigration hold.
Christensen was charged with possession of methamphetamine, maintaining a house for the purpose of selling narcotics and child endangerment, Mackenzie said.
Methamphetamine was also discovered in the sole of his shoe when he was brought to jail, MacKenzie said. He now faces an additional charge of bringing drugs into jail. He remains on $90,000 bail.
Birrueta was charged with possession for sale of marijuana, child endangerment and maintaining a house for selling narcotics, MacKenzie said. She remains on $80,000 bail.
Mudget was charged with maintaining a house for selling narcotics, MacKenzie said. She remains on $20,000 bail.
Methamphetamine remains a serious problem in Merced County, and incidents involving children is even more troubling, MacKenzie said.
The sheriff's department makes about three to five methamphetamine-related arrests every week, he said. Methamphetamine arrests this year total "well into the hundreds."
Smoking hard drugs around young kids who are still developing can do irreversible damage to their bodies and brains, MacKenzie mentioned.
"That's the scary part," he said. "We're always turning kids over to CPS on these kinds of cases."
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.