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Branchburg Man Charged with Possessing Stolen Gun


Somerset County Prosecutor John P. McDonald and Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of County Detectives John W. Fodor announced the arrest of Jorge L. Mercado, 24, of Branchburg, for possessing a stolen firearm and several related criminal charges. 

Prosecutor McDonald stated that on 

Thursday, July 21, 2022, at approximately 6:40 a.m. Branchburg Township Police responded to a residence on Burnt Mills Road for a report of a verbal dispute. 

Upon the arrival of the investigating officer, he met with Jorge Mercado in the driveway of the residence. 

The officer spoke with Mr. Mercado and directed him to remain in the driveway while the officer met with the complainant inside the residence.

While inside the residence, the complainant advised that a verbal dispute had occurred earlier with Mr. Mercado.

The officer was directed to a handgun in plain view, belonging to Mr. Mercado, in an open lunch box on the kitchen table. 

The firearm was loaded with a large capacity ammunition magazine which contained hollow point bullets. 

A National Crime Information Center (NCIC) check of the firearm through Somerset County Communications Center revealed that the gun had been reported stolen in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

 A follow-up check also revealed that Mr. Mercado is prohibited from possessing a firearm. 

The responding officer then exited the residence to speak with Mr. Mercado, who had fled the area on foot.  A search of the area with the assistance of additional Branchburg Officers yielded negative results in locating Mr. Mercado.

Prosecutor McDonald stated that at approximately 3:50 p.m., Branchburg Township Officers returned to Burnt Mills Road, where they discovered Jorge Mercado hiding inside the residence. 

Mr. Mercado was arrested without incident. A subsequent consent search of the vehicle which defendant Mercado had been operating revealed a fraudulent check that had been stolen from a company which he is not affiliated with. 

Prosecutor McDonald stated that defendant Mercado was charged with:

• 2nd degree Certain Persons Prohibited from Possessing a Firearm

• 3rd degree Receiving Stolen Property

• 3rd-degree Theft

• 4th-degree Possession of Hollow Point Bullets

• 4th-degree Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine

• 4th degree Obstructing the Administration of Law; and

• Disorderly Persons Harassment

Defendant Mercado was lodged in the Somerset County Jail pending a detention hearing.   

Prosecutor McDonald and Chief Fodor request anyone with information relating to this incident to contact the Branchburg Township Police Department at (908) 526-3830