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16 arrested in massive marijuana bust in Gwinnett

A day after more than 2,500 marijuana plants were seized, Gwinnett County and federal authorities confirmed Thursday they arrested 16 people in the 19-home drug sting. 

And several more arrests could be made after authorities issued warrants for those not yet in custody, Lawrenceville police Lt. Jake Parker said Thursday in a news release. The identities of those charged have not been released. 

More than $340,000, 10 firearms, including a  semi-automatic rifle, and seven vehicles were seized in the drug bust early Wednesday morning, Parker said. The Gwinnett Metro Task Force led the operation, which involved police officers from every city in Gwinnett County, as well as county, state and federal authorities. 

RELATED: 2,500 marijuana plants seized, 18 homes raided in massive Gwinnett drug sting

16 charged in marijuana grow bust. (Credit: Channel 2 Action News) 

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“What was discovered during the service of the search warrants confirmed that this organization was involved in a sophisticated marijuana grow and manufacturing operation,” Parker said in the release.  

The raids targeted what appeared to be a single drug-trafficking organization operating out of various locations throughout the county, according to Lawrenceville police.

Some of the locations were empty, Parker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. Others had two or three people living in the home.

Parker said the organization was a sophisticated one. Several of the homes raided had growing rooms and entire basements full of suspected marijuana.

One of those homes was on Arnold Road in Lawrenceville, according to Channel 2 Action News. About 210 plants were found in the residence, and the upper level of the home was used for cutting and sorting them, the news station reported.

Another home on Wildcat Cliff Way had more than 310 plants found inside its basement with a full-scale packaging operation upstairs, Channel 2 reported. 

About $250,000 in cash was found in a home on Five Forks Trickum Road, Channel 2 reported. At least two firearms and a money counting machine were also found in the residence. 

Officers and agents wore masks as they hauled out bag after bag of plant material at some locations, but Parker said neighboring homes were not at risk of any bio hazards. The masks were for the officers own safety, he said, because some of the grow rooms were damp and musty.

In other news:

Gwinnett County police told Channel 2 Action News the body "on the surface" could be that of a missing 25-year-old UGA graduate.

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