SAN JOSE -- A Newark man's run from the law for federal meth-dealing and weapons charges ended with his arrest in San Jose, nine months after his indictment in a Menlo Park narcotics investigation, authorities said.
John Sellers, 48, was arrested Monday afternoon at a San Jose gas station after Menlo Park detectives and FBI agents followed him from a house in Newark where he had been in hiding, said acting Cmdr. Eric Cowans of the Menlo Park Police Department.
Sellers had been wanted since his November federal indictment for one count of possessing with intent to sell methamphetamine and two counts related to him having a shotgun, which a prior felony conviction barred him from owning, according to court documents.
The investigation into Sellers began in September when he was suspected of dealing methamphetamine in Menlo Park and in East Palo Alto, where he was living, Cowans said. Menlo Park police obtained a search warrant for his home and uncovered both the drug and a shotgun and ammunition.
Sellers was arrested and released pending further investigation. Cowans said he and a fellow detective used their connections as members of a regional FBI drug task force to pursue a federal case, owing in part to the harsher penalties handed down by the federal system over those of state courts.
Cowans said police were in regular contact with Sellers during their investigation and that he was aware an indictment was imminent and had been expected to surrender.
"Once we obtained the arrest warrant, he up and disappeared," Cowans said.
Police would intermittently look for Sellers in the ensuing months largely based on tips, the latest suggesting that he might be in Newark. Menlo Park detectives, including Cowan, teamed with FBI agents to watch a home in the 6200 block of Wilma Street. Not a peep was heard from Sellers until Monday.
"For four days, we're spending 18 hours in that area, then he finally comes out," Cowans said.
Sellers continued to be elusive, the commander recalled: On his way to a car in the driveway, he hid behind a tree, wore a hat low on his head, and kept in the shadows as he climbed into the passenger seat.
The police contingent cautiously trailed the car, because they couldn't immediately confirm it was him, Cowans said. The pursuit led to a gas station at The Alameda and Newhall Street in San Jose near the Santa Clara border, where they stopped the car and Sellers, who police say had methamphetamine at the time of his arrest.
On Tuesday, Sellers was transferred to the custody of the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service. The same day he made a brief appearance in a federal courtroom in San Francisco before he was placed in federal holding at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
Cowans said the arrest was a testament to the doggedness of his detectives and their FBI partners.
"We're going to find you," he said. "It's a matter of time; you can only hide for so long."
Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.