TAYLORSVILLE — Two search warrants served overnight in connection with the arrests of three fugitives on Thursday resulted in the seizure of drugs and weapons.
On Thursday, Ronnie Wakefield, 30, Michael Velarde, 30, and Carey Wayne Parker, 31, were rounded up by members of the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team and other local police agencies. Investigators said all three are documented gang members believed to have recently been "running together," committing various crimes.
A week ago, JCAT commander Jim Phelps with the U.S. Marshal's Service said he received word that one of the three men had pulled a gun on one of their associates. That incident made the trio a high priority for JCAT, he said.
All three were considered armed and dangerous. Velarde had a federal warrant out for his arrest for a firearms violation, Parker had a no bail warrant from the Utah Department of Corrections, and Wakefield had a $25,000 warrant for his arrest for credit card fraud, Phelps said.
About 12:30 p.m. Thursday, detectives spotted Wakefield. A short car chase ensued that ended near 1250 W. Winchester (6400 South). Wakefield got out, climbed a fence, jumped into a canal, swam across and hid in the trees and bushes on the other side, Phelps said.
By 3 p.m., after calling additional officers from several agencies, a K9 officer from the Utah Highway Patrol and a helicopter from the Department of Public Safety, Wakefield was found soaking wet by the police dog and was arrested.
By 6 p.m., JCAT officers spotted the other two men in another vehicle. Another short chase ensued and ended at a house near 4000 West and 6200 South, Phelps said. One man got out of the car and ran. He was tackled and arrested a short time later by a JCAT officer.
The other man fled into the nearby house of an acquaintance. A team of JCAT detectives found him hiding in the basement, Phelps said. The man in the basement had $2,000 cash in his pocket, he said. A handgun that was tossed while the other man was running from officers was also recovered.
Investigators found methamphetamine inside the men's car. Based on information collected at the scene, they obtained additional search warrants for a hotel in Salt Lake City and a storage shed in West Valley City. In the shed, two pounds of marijuana were found as well as two stolen firearms, including an AK-47, Phelps said.
In the hotel, investigators found two pounds of meth.
Velarde was previously convicted in 2009 of possession of a firearm by a restricted person, according to Utah court records. His adult criminal record goes back to 2002 when he was convicted of the same crime.
Parker also has an extensive criminal history, according to court records, including drug-related convictions.
Wakefield's criminal history includes being charged Aug. 29 in 3rd District Court with meth possession, retaliation against a witness, two domestic violence related offenses including assault and interfering with an arrest. Wakefield allegedly beat up his girlfriend, according to court records, and then yelled, "I go, you go" while being arrested in addition to saying, "(The woman) is dead."
He was also charged in May with credit card fraud, according to court records.
Contributing: Julian Reyes