(WSB Radio) The Gwinnett County District Attorney's Office, Gwinnett Police, and the Drug Enforcement Agency release more details in a nationwide bust of a Mexican drug ring that netted nearly 40 arrests in metro Atlanta.
Besides the arrests of La Familia members, law enforcement confiscated 17 kilograms of cocaine , 188 pounds of crystal methamphetamine , 13 guns, and $50,000 cash at two homes in Lawrenceville and Lilburn.
Officials say one of those homes located at 1440 La Maison Drive in Lawrenceville contained the largest methamphetamine conversion lab ever seen in this country.
"The lab was found in a middle-class neighborhood... a white, split-level house. The only thing it didn't have was a picket fence," says Gwinnett D.A. Danny Porter. He says part of the success of the gang over the years is that members blended in with a growing Hispanic population in Gwinnett and operated inside quite neighborhoods.
DEA Special Agency Rodney Benson says with more than 300 arrests nationwide, they've put a pretty good dent in the gang's U.S. operations.This illegal alien activity is not just isolated to Atlanta - the scourge is nationwide. Thanks to the efforts of local and federal official a bunch of these cockroaches are of the streets - for now.
"Whether it's taking away $32 million in currency, whether it's taking away dangerous ice methamphetamine , the weapons... clearly they've been impacted," he says.
The operation called Project Coronada conducted simultaneous stings in 39 other cities including Dallas and Los Angeles. More than 3000 agents and police participated.
Benson says La Familia is known for its violence including murders, kidnappings, and assaults. He says one of the leaders is behind the murders of 12 Mexican federal police officers in July.
"We have taken a lot of dangerous people out of this community and a lot of communities over the United States and that is the focus of drug enforcement," says Gwinnett Police Chief Charlie Walters.
22 October 2209
Just before dawn Wednesday, Drug Enforcement Administration agents launched a raid on suspected Mexican drug traffickers hiding out in a Los Angeles suburb.
Vicious drug cartels are setting up shop in quiet neighborhoods.
Moments later, the suspects were brought out in handcuffs, caught in what authorities say is the largest national dragnet against Mexican cartels, which have been expanding their reach across the United States.
The California raid was one of dozens that took place over the past two days, targeting Mexico's La Familia cartel, an organization notorious for beheadings and its brazen attacks on authorities south of the border. La Familia also ships huge amounts of methamphetamines, marijuana and cocaine into the United States each year, the DEA says.
"They're very active, they're prolific and they're extremely dangerous," DEA agent Jose Martinez said at the scene of the Riverside, Calif., raid.
The operation -- which authorities have called Project Coronado -- involved more than 3,000 federal agents and police officers in 19 states, resulting in the arrests of more than 300 people. Authorities seized $3.4 million, 730 pounds of methamphetamines, and more than 400 weapons from members of the cartel.