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Domestic dispute turns deadly
Two stabbed, two meth labs discovered
Jesus Ortega
A Hilmar woman who was stabbed by her boyfriend Wednesday night during a domestic dispute was taken off life support Friday afternoon and pronounced dead, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department reported.
The 36-year-old woman’s name has not been released by the sheriff’s department.
The suspect in the homicide has been identified by the sheriff’s department as Jesus Ortega, 38. Ortega is currently at large and is possibly on his way to Mexico in a white two-door vehicle, possibly a 2006 Honda Accord with the license plate number of 5SPE198.
A 48-year-old male relative of the deceased was also stabbed during the attack. He has been treated for his injury and released from a hospital, according to sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie.
The initial investigation into the attack led authorities to two different methamphetamine labs operating in Hilmar and Turlock.
The incident began Wednesday afternoon at a home in the 19000 block of First Street in Hilmar. Ortega and his girlfriend of 10 years got into an argument and Ortega left the house, but returned around 11 p.m. and let himself in with his key, MacKenzie said.
Another argument broke out and the victim tried to leave with her two teenage daughters, but Ortega allegedly grabbed her outside the residence and stabbed her, MacKenzie said.
When the girlfriend’s male relative stepped in to stop the attack, Ortega allegedly stabbed him as well.
During the course of the investigation, deputies found evidence of methamphetamine use and manufacturing at the house. Detectives with the sheriff’s department served out three search warrants and agents with the Merced Mariposa High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force were brought into the investigation.
At the First Street residence, investigators found $2,500 in methamphetamine, as well as canisters of acetone and other chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine.
The search turned up evidence of another methamphetamine lab in the 1000 block of Mitchell Road in Turlock. On that property, agents found a lab operating out of a barn. Agents found approximately one pound of finished product with a street value of about $20,000, MacKenzie said.
MacKenzie said the labs were methamphetamine conversion labs, where the narcotic is converted into crystal methamphetamine.
“It is essentially the same drug, however, converting to crystal makes it more appealing to users, (and) enables suppliers to charge a slightly elevated price,” MacKenzie said. “The effects of the narcotic are not changed and the dangers of consumption still remain.”
The conversion labs were a small to medium operation with the capability of converting less than 10 pounds of finished product during one “cook” MacKenzie said.
Anyone with information related to the case or the whereabouts of Jesus Ortega are asked to call the Merced County Sheriff’s Department at 385-7472.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.