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Investigation launched after drunk driving suspect claims cartel ties
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The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department took two men into custody Sunday during a traffic stop, one of whom proclaimed himself a member of a violent drug cartel and threatened the deputy, the department reported Thursday.

The sheriff’s department said the two men were trying to intimidate the deputy during the traffic stop, but other deputies arriving to the scene helped control the situation and kept it from escalating into a violent confrontation.

The incident began just before 3:30 a.m. Sunday when a deputy assigned to the Hughson Police Services performed a traffic stop on a suspected drunk driver.

The suspect’s vehicle was seen speeding through a Hughson residential neighborhood near 7th Street and Hughson Avenue, said sheriff spokesman Deputy Luke Schwartz.

The vehicle was stopped and the occupants started exiting, despite the deputy’s instructions to remain in the car, Schwartz said.

The men started smashing beer bottles on the ground and hurling obscenities at the deputy.

“Fortunately, assisting deputies soon arrived and were able to safely control the situation and detain all of the occupants,” Schwartz said.

The driver, Heron Linares Reyes, 22, of Delhi and 22-year-old Jerardo Linares of Hughson were both showing “symptoms of obvious alcohol intoxication,” according to the sheriff’s department.

Neither man had a valid driver’s license, Schwartz said.

Reyes refused to submit to field sobriety tests, including a breath analyzer to determine his level of alcohol intoxication. He was transported to a local area hospital to have his blood drawn and along the way Reyes made “a series of very specific, direct and unequivocal threats towards the transporting deputy,” Schwartz said. 

“He openly identified himself as a member of the La Familia Michoacana, with a close association to the Los Zetas drug cartel,” Schwartz said.

Reyes was booked into the Stanislaus County Men’s Jail for felony resisting and/or deterring an executive officer and driving under the influence of alcohol.  He has already made bail and was released on his own recognizance with a promise to appear.  

Linares was booked for misdemeanor public intoxication and resisting arrest.  He was eventually cited and given an upcoming court date. 

Detectives with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department Special Team Investigating Narcotics & Gangs, also known as S.T.I.N.G., have begun an investigation in the aftermath of the Hughson incident.  They are working in collaboration with law enforcement partners in Merced County in order to further track, monitor and analyze the latest developments and trends associated with drug trafficking organizations in Stanislaus County, Schwartz said. The Department of Justice and federal Drug Enforcement Agency said these drug organizations are known to be involved in marijuana and methamphetamine production, kidnapping, extortion and other narcotics trafficking related activities.  “Drug trafficking organizations are a real threat in Stanislaus County, and we need to monitor their activities, as it relates to the safety of our communities,” said Detective Sgt. Anthony Bejaran. “Not only are they drug dealers, but they openly threaten law enforcement officers.”     

The case is still open and the investigation is ongoing. Anybody with further information regarding this incident is urged to contact Det. Sgt. Anthony Bejaran at 567-4481, or they can choose to remain anonymous and call Stanislaus County Area Crime Stoppers toll free at 1-866-602-7463 or locally at 521-4636.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.