Officers arrest man in Merced, California for illegal weapons and drugs


A Merced man faces potentially decades in prison after being arrested for being a felon in possession of ammunition and possession of narcotics with intent to distribute.

Johnathan Eldon Moss Jr., 35, was arrested Thursday on the federal charge on two counts, according to a press release issued Friday by the US Department of Justice.

Moss has previous convictions for felony firearms and drug offences, domestic violence and stalking, according to the statement. He is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition because of these convictions.

Being a felon in possession of ammunition could result in a legal sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if Moss is found guilty, the statement said. The narcotics possession offense could result in up to 30 years in prison, due to Moss’ previous drug trafficking convictions. This sentence could also be accompanied by a fine of 2 million dollars.

The charges follow a search by officers of Moss’s home and vehicle, the statement said. Officers reportedly discovered a number of illicit items during the search.

These items are said to include several unmarked privately made firearms known as “ghost rifles”, hundreds of cartridges, high capacity rifle and pistol magazines, a high capacity quick loader for rifle magazines, a ledger showing weapons and ammunition sold, body armor, cocaine, psilocybin, and a total of $10,990 in cash.

The case is the product of a joint investigation by the Merced County Sheriff’s Office Tactical and Reconnaissance Team (STAR), Merced Area Gang and Narcotics Team (MAGNET ) and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica A. Massey, the case is part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program. According to the release, the PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.

“PSN is an evidence-based program that has been shown to be effective in reducing violent crime,” the statement said. “As part of this strategy, the PSN focuses its law enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with local prevention and rehabilitation programs for a lasting reduction in crime.”

The program involves a range of stakeholders to work together and identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community, as well as to develop comprehensive solutions to address them.

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Abbie Lauten-Scrivner is a reporter for the Merced Sun-Star. It covers the town of Atwater and the county of Merced. Abbie holds a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Public Relations from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

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