Merced man charged with drug trafficking offense, officials say

Merced Police file

Image courtesy of Merced GW News.

FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – A federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment to a 38-year-old Merced man on Thursday.

The Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced that Richard Charles Thomas Jr would be charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

According to court documents, on August 25, 2020 Thomas led officers on a high-speed chase throughout the city of Merced and while fleeing, he threw a black bag from the vehicle.

Court documents state that the bag recovered contained $3,162 in cash, approximately 839 grams of methamphetamine, and personal effects belonging to Thomas.

If Thomas is convicted he faces a mandatory minimum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10 million fine, but any sentence would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the U.S. Department of Justice says.

The charges Thomas currently faces are only allegations because the defense is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the department says.

This case is a product of an investigation by the Merced Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The Department of Justice says this case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PNS) Program, which they describe as the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.

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