Police score big in Mexican meth bust
Cops seize 351 pounds, arrest 4 men in raids.Stash shows how Atlanta is a throughway for the East Coast drug trade.
By Marcus K. Garner
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, May 14, 2009
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration seized 351 pounds of crystal methamphetamine from two Gwinnett County homes, authorities announced Wednesday.
The bust, made earlier this week, had a wholesale value of about $6 million, said DEA special agent in charge Rodney Benson.
“This is the largest seizure of methamphetamine east of the Mississippi [River],” Benson said Wednesday at a news conference in downtown Atlanta.
Benson showed dozens of two-pound plastic bags filled with the crystal he said “rots the body from the inside out,” along with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Authorities said DEA agents also seized a kilogram of cocaine and an unspecified amount of acetone, a highly flammable chemical used to purify methamphetamine and crystallize the drug, making it stronger.
“We suspect this meth will be [in the] 80- to 90-percent purity range,” Benson said.
DEA agents and police from Atlanta’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force raided two Duluth homes late Sunday and early Monday, he said. Four men, all Mexican natives, were arrested at 4238 Buckingham Place and 2695 Cambridge Park Drive.
“This is typical of what we’re seeing with the Mexican [drug] cartels,” Benson said. “They want to blend in to regular neighborhoods. It appears no neighbors knew what was going on.”
Jose Rafael Lopez-Jimenez, 34; Gerardo Antonio Urena-Esquivel, 35; Luis Naranjo-Leon, 23; and Hugo Flores Rios, 29, were charged with felony trafficking. They are being held without bond in Gwinnett County jail.
Benson said Mexican drug cartels, chief among them the Gulf Cartel and the Sinaloa cartel, have targeted metro Atlanta as a throughway for moving drugs to markets on the Eastern seaboard.
Though officials have ruled out any connection between this bust and a quadruple shooting Monday down the street from the Buckingham Place home, that investigation continues, Benson said.
that's a lot of crank