Family of a missing Valley teen pleads for his return

FRESNO, Calif.

Police say he and his friends were trying to steal marijuana from a grow site near the intersection of Annadale and Willow avenues.

Family members want to look for Sammy Mercado but have no idea where to even begin. With few clues, family members are relying on tips from the public to help sheriff's detectives crack the case.

Sammy's relative, Virgil Garza told Action News, "It's not about snitching or ratting, it's about a human life. This kid has his whole life ahead of him."

Fresno County Sheriff's Detectives say Sammy and two others went to a grow around 7:30 Thursday morning to steal some marijuana. Sammy got out of the car, when two men protecting the valuable crop began firing at the group. Sammy's friends got away safely, but Sammy was hurt. Investigators won't say how bad.

Family members are hoping Sammy is still alive and being held against his will. Monday they issued a plea for anyone who knows where Sammy is to come forward.

"I'm not saying he's perfect, but he needs to come home. Somebody out there knows what happened to Sammy."

Memories of Sammy just last weekend at the family's Easter celebration are bringing smiles. Loved ones say they are still trying to be optimistic that he will be found alive.

Sheriff's detectives are interviewing those who were in the area when shots were fired. Neighbors tell Action News the crop is monitored constantly by farmers who stay at the farm 24 hours a day.

Detectives won't speculate on whether they believe Sammy is still alive, only that they are working nonstop to find the missing teen.

Chris Curtice with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office told Action News, "First things first, that's finding the 16-year-old and whether he is injured or needs assistance or help and get that done and worry about the grow afterwards."

Detectives are looking for two trucks and they need your help. One is described as a raised green Dodge pickup truck with big tires, and a silver or gray stripe. They're also looking for a red Dodge truck with a regular cab. If you see these, please call the Fresno County Sheriff's Department.

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