Merced Man Arrested for Being a Felon in Possession of Ammunition and Drug Trafficking Charges

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FRESNO, Calif. — Johnathan Eldon Moss Jr., 35, of Merced, was detained Thursday on a two‑count federal indictment charging him with being a felon in possession of ammunition and possession with intent to distribute narcotics, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Moss’s home and on his vehicle. Those searches yielded multiple unmarked, privately made firearms known as “ghost guns,” several hundred rounds of unexpended ammunition, high-capacity rifle and pistol magazines, a high-capacity speed loader for rifle magazines, a ledger showing weapons and ammunition sold, a body armor vest, cocaine, psilocybin, and a total of $10,990 in cash. Moss has felony convictions for firearms and drug offenses, domestic violence and stalking and is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Merced County Sheriff’s Office Tactical and Reconnaissance (STAR) Team, the Merced Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team (MAGNET), and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica A. Massey is prosecuting the case.

If convicted of the felon in possession of ammunition charge, Moss faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted of the drug possession offense, he faces not more than 30 years in prison (due to his prior felony drug convictions) and a fine of up to $2 million. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.