State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) announced today that he has introduced SCR 77, new legislation to create a memorial highway in honor of Merced County Sheriff’s Office Deputy and Special Agent Rick Oules. Oules investigated and dismantled approximately 300 methamphetamine labs during his more than 30-year career, ultimately succumbing to lung cancer as a result of his frequent long-term exposure to the large number of chemicals and solvents found in these labs. SCR 77 would rename a portion of State Highway Route 140 (SR 140) in Merced County as the Special Agent Richard “Rick” Oules Memorial Highway.
“Special Agent Oules was an extraordinary individual who consistently and courageously placed himself before others, destroying hundreds of dangerous methamphetamine labs,” said Cannella. “And while he undoubtedly saved countless lives throughout his prestigious career, he ultimately paid with his own. It is my privilege to present this legislation to honor this incredible man who gave so much to make this state a safer place to live.”
Oules began his law enforcement career in 1977 when he joined the Merced County Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy, later serving as a narcotics detective and patrol sergeant. In 1987, he joined the California Department of Justice as a special agent assigned to the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement where he supervised the Clandestine Lab Enforcement Team, processing approximately 300 methamphetamine laboratories. In 2005, he was appointed as the Director of the California Division of Law Enforcement, and after a short break from retirement, returned to the United States Attorney’s Office in Sacramento as a law enforcement coordinator until his death in 2011.
“Long before Special Agent Rick Oules protected the people of California through his service with state and federal law enforcement agencies, he served his community as a Merced County Sheriff’s Deputy and distinguished himself and his agency in his capacity as a supervisor,” said Merced County Sheriff-Coroner Tom Cavallero. “The nearly 300 men and women of the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, along with his family, genuinely appreciate Senator Cannella’s ongoing support of law enforcement and his sponsorship of this important measure to honor the life of Special Agent Oules.”
The portion of SR 140 to be renamed would extend from Arboleda Drive to Plainsburg Road in Merced County.