$3.2M in meth seized; 5 arrested in North Georgia

$3.2M in meth seized; 5 arrested in North Georgia

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Authorities seized methamphetamine in a North Georgia operation. (Credit: Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office)
  • Story Highlights
  • A traffic stop in North Georgia started the activity, according to a drug task force.
  • A search and a raid on a conversion lab followed.
  • One of the suspects is from metro Atlanta.

A North Georgia drug bust dismantled a meth lab and seized more than $3 million worth of crystal methamphetamine, officials said Saturday.

Five people, one from Gwinnett County, were arrested Friday on charges including methamphetamine trafficking and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office said in a news release.

In all, officers collected 30 kilograms of crystal meth, several grams of cocaine and $166,000 in cash, according to the release. They also broke up a lab capable of producing at least 25 to 50 kilograms of meth at a time.

The street value of the 30 kilograms of crystal meth is $3.2 million, officials said.

The arrests started with a traffic stop of Angel Luis Rivera-Santiago and Victor Rafael Aponte, according to the release. 

Authorities seized 15 kilograms of meth and then executed a search warrant in Dahlonega, where the cocaine and cash were found. Valentine Duarte-Vejar ran from the residence but was arrested and found with a gun.

Then officers raided a conversion lab in Union County, where they found another handgun and another 15 kilograms of meth, according to the release. A conversion lab is used to convert liquid meth to its crystal form. Officers processed about 300 pounds of waste, largely containing methamphetamine oil.

Luis Rivera-Santiago, 42, of Norcross, Rafael Aponte, 30, of Dahlonega, and Duarte-Vejar, 25, of Dahlonega, were charged with trafficking methamphetamine, according to the release. Eleoncio Perez-Pineda, 29, of Dahlonega, and Jose Mario Duarte-Vejar, 25, of Dahlonega, were later arrested and charged with conspiracy to manufacture meth. The men were taken to the Lumpkin County Detention Center.

“This short but effective investigation was a federal, state and local partnership that disrupted and dismantled a drug distribution network’s attempt to flood our communities with this destructive drug for their own financial gain,” ARDEO official Mitchell Posey said in the release.

Agencies participating in the arrests include the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office, the Union County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.

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