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Meth 'Super Lab' Raid One Of Biggest Busts In History

Meth 'Super Lab' Raid One Of Biggest Busts In History

Some of the more than 900 pounds of methamphetamine seized by Gwinnett County, Ga., police is seen in an undated photo provided by the Gwinnett County, Ga., Police Department. Police say they raided a house in Norcross, Ga., Nov. 29 after being told a lar

Atlanta Journal Constitution via YellowBrix

December 01, 2010

GWINNETT County, GA – When self-described “nosy neighbor” Cosetta Campbell stepped outside to investigate police activity near her home in Norcross Monday evening, even she never suspected what was afoot.

Officers were raiding what would turn out to be one of the largest methamphetamine labs in the nation just a few houses down from Campbell, in an otherwise quiet crook of Newbury Road. Local and federal law enforcement officers carted away 984 pounds of methamphetamine worth an estimated $44 million. The slate gray two-story house in question had been unoccupied since 2008 and no one had been seen coming or going in months, Campbell said.

“We never suspected anything, that’s the alarming thing,” Campbell said Tuesday as she surveyed the activity from her front porch.

Authorities say that was all part of the drug traffickers’ plan.

“We are seeing Mexican organized crime operating the way they have been in this region — in middle-class neighborhoods, quiet, under the radar,” said Rodney Benson, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Atlanta Field Division. Benson said the operation had all the fingerprints of the Mexican cartels, although investigators have not confirmed that connection.

Benson classified the operation as a “super-lab,” which is any meth lab capable of producing more than 10 pounds.

Meth_gcpd5_766462c_max200w

A search of a house at 3355 Newbury Rd. in Norcross turned up a methamphetamine lab with a large amount of crystal meth and liquid methamphetamine oil. [AP]

Gwinnett police requested assistance from the DEA, Norcross police and the Gwinnett fire department’s hazmat team to help safely dismantle the lab. A few neighboring homes were evacuated as a precaution, but no injuries were reported. The chemicals used to manufacture the drug are extremely volatile, making for a “extremely hazardous situation,” Gwinnett Police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said.

Ritter said that investigators obtained a search warrant after getting a tip that a large amount of meth was being produced at the home. Inside they found numerous propane tanks, plastic tubs, bottles of acetone and barrels of methamphetamine oil. Benson said the methamphetamine oil was smuggled in liquid form across the border from Mexico and stashed in the Norcross house, where it was being converted into crystal meth and then distributed along the East Coast. He said crystal meth seized in the bust was about 80 to 90 percent pure and highly addictive.

Methsuspect_gcpd9_1_766640c_max200w

Police arrested Jose Galvez-Vela, 33, of Weslaco, Texas, and charged him with trafficking in meth.

Late Monday evening, police arrested 33-year-old Jose Galvez-Vela, a Mexican native whose last known address was in Weslaco, Texas, on a charge of trafficking methamphetamine. Ritter did not know if Galvez-Vela was a legal U.S. resident. Police assume he was not running such a sophisticated operation alone and said more arrests are likely.

The neighborhood where the lab was found sits back about a quarter-mile off Beaver Ruin Road. Norcross Police Capt. Brian Harr said the area is in transition but is not crime-ridden. Long-time residents of the neighborhood have seen lower income people moving in and many houses being rented or foreclosed upon.

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson said it has been difficult to keep tabs on all vacant and foreclosed properties in the city, which tend to invite crime.

“It’s a national issue and a lot of times people don’t think of us as an urban area, but we are,” Johnson said. “It takes all of us being vigilant. Police can only be so vigilant and they can only see so much.”

Authorities said the lab in many ways resembled another large-scale methamphetamine manufacturing operation in unincorporated Duluth that was dismantled in May 2009.

In that lab, which was run by the La Familia Mexican drug cartel, police seized 351 pounds of crystal methamphetamine with a wholesale value of about $6 million. The drugs were being manufactured in a rental home on Buckingham Place, only about four miles north on Buford Highway from the location of Monday’s raid.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said the county continues to battle the influence of the cartels on an unprecedented level.

“You’ve sort of seen the tide as it’s come in,” Porter said. “Certainly meth labs are nothing new. We’ve had those since the 1980s. But on this kind of scale, no. I never really anticipated it.”


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    granny1

    over 3 years ago

    1448 Comments

    awesome.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    howarddaniel

    over 3 years ago

    2 Comments

    Why secure the borders?

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    scotts

    over 3 years ago

    22 Comments

    A job well done Officers! Looking at the arrestee's photo, I suspect He's been consuming some of his product. He looks older than his reported age.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    Naahhh, we don't need to secure our borders.

  • My_kids_max50

    curtis_fox

    over 3 years ago

    58 Comments

    Nice Job Guys !!!! Keep up the good work!!

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50

    Whalewatcher

    over 3 years ago

    11194 Comments

    Nice job, folks !!!

  • Flags_and_stars_max50

    djs2v

    over 3 years ago

    5628 Comments

    Awesome bust!!!

  • 14600_10200352713679693_171098802_n_max50

    ImpdsAngel

    over 3 years ago

    3140 Comments

    Outstanding Job Officers!!!

  • Img020_max50

    Caleb_w_Gray

    over 3 years ago

    42 Comments

    Crazy! That is alot of meth

  • Eagle_and_flag_max50

    36TR

    over 3 years ago

    7620 Comments

    All I can say is WOW!!!! Awesome Job!!!!

  • Pug_max600_max50

    DALLASCRANE

    over 3 years ago

    19382 Comments

    GREAT CATCH........

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50

    Irishcop1961

    over 3 years ago

    50392 Comments

    Nice grab.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    nitesi

    over 3 years ago

    136 Comments

    Fantastic job!!! I don't know what the state stats are there. But they should all be taken out and shot. Won;t give them the chance to do it again!!! That woud save a good number of people.

  • Police_mia_weapons_zastavki_com_22517_19_max50

    schedir81

    over 3 years ago

    168 Comments

    Good job. 900 pounds? My god I can only begin to imagine the amount of lives all this stuff would of ruined...

  • Me2_max50

    bstites

    over 3 years ago

    1028 Comments

    Nice!

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