Convicted Merced County drug dealer caught at traffic stop with $9,000, bottle of Xanax pills

LIVINGSTON, CA – Livingston, CA – On December 11, 2020, at approximately 4:30 pm The Merced County Sheriff’s STAR Team conducted a vehicle Enforcement stop in the area of Hammatt Avenue and Park Street in Livingston. When deputies walked up to the vehicle, they recognized the driver as 26-year-old Mario Antonio Garandia and the passenger as 22-year-old Daniel Ziniga. Garandia was on active Merced County Probation and a convicted felon who has a history of selling prescription narcotics. Upon conducting a probation search of the vehicle, STAR Team members located a loaded 9mm subcompact handgun in the center console along with $9,000 dollars in various denominations. The passenger Ziniga had a bottle of Xanax pills in his pocket.

Garandia was arrested and booked into the Merced County Jail for various weapons and narcotics violations to include being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, along with gang enhancements. Due to the Emergency COVID zero bail order, Ziniga was released on scene, and charges of weapons and narcotics violations will be filed against him with the District Attoney’s Office.