Four Merced residents were arrested early Sunday morning in connection with the attempted theft of a catalytic converter that ultimately also resulted in the recovery of a stolen handgun, drugs, and counterfeit currency.
Around 4 a.m. on Aug. 18, officers responded to the 800 block of Wake Forest Drive for reports of a neighbor chasing someone away from their home. As officers were in route, the caller told dispatchers that the suspect vehicle, a Toyota Camry, had sped away from the area. The information was immediately relayed to our officers, one of whom spotted the suspect vehicle a short distance away on Emily Drive.
The driver of the car, Merced resident 21-year-old Na Xiong, was detained and subsequently identified by witnesses as the same man who had been chased away from the home on Wake Forest Drive. During a search of the suspect vehicle, a handgun that had been reported stolen out of the Central Valley was found, along with several burglary tools. In the car, officers found a catalytic converter that was later identified as having been stolen from a car at the targeted home on Wake Forest Drive. Na Xiong was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon within a vehicle, knowingly carrying a loaded firearm that was stolen, receiving stolen property, forgery and counterfeiting, and attempted grand theft.
A second officer assisting with the investigation that morning noticed that the suspect vehicle was one that had been associated to suspicious activity that had been reported at the Ramada Inn, located on Fairchild Drive. Concerned that additional criminal activity may be underway at that location, officers drove to the hotel and spotted several people going in and out of two rooms. Officers approached the hotel rooms and attempted to speak with the people inside, at least one of whom was spotted hiding items.
Officers eventually were able to speak with the people inside, and a subsequent search of the room resulted in the discovery of methamphetamine, methamphetamine pipes, counterfeit currency, tools to make counterfeit money, phones, and burglary tools.
Three people inside the hotel room, 26-year-old Touta Xiong, 35-year-old An Lee, and 35-year-old Bill Chang, all of Merced, were subsequently arrested.
Touta Xiong was arrested on suspicion of forgery and counterfeiting, possession of burglary tools, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and attempted grand theft.
An Lee was arrested on suspicion of forgery and counterfeiting, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Bill Chang was arrested on suspicion of forgery and counterfeiting, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The group was transported to the Santa Clara County Jail.
“Absolutely incredible work by our patrol team,” said Lt. Armando Espitia. “Their awareness and ability to quickly connect multiple incidents led to the apprehension of these suspects and will help to keep our community safe. I’m proud of our team’s excellent efforts.”
Media inquiries can be sent to PIO Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.