Atlanta police announced Thursday an arrest in what they’re calling one of their largest methamphetamine busts ever, recovering drugs with a total street value of $10.8 million.
Armando Ayala was charged with trafficking methamphetamine, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He was taken to the Fulton County Jail.
Police said they recovered about 41 lbs. of crystal methamphetamine and 50 gallons of the liquid form of methamphetamine. If converted to the crystal form, the liquid form would equal about 250 lbs., police said.
They also recovered more than $35,000 in cash as well as a 9mm gun and three vehicles.
Police and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents made the discovery when they executed simultaneous search warrants at two homes in the 2300 block of Nelms Drive, in a southwest Atlanta neighborhood adjacent to the Downtown Connector.
Investigators discovered a fully operational methamphetamine conversion laboratory at one home and a substantial amount of methamphetamine in various stages of production at the second home.
“Through focused investigations and hours of hard work by law enforcement, we were able to disrupt a major meth operation that will prevent dangerous drugs from reaching our communities,” Atlanta police Deputy Chief of Criminal Investigations Darryl Tolleson said.
Said Atlanta police chief George Turner, “This is a major win for our city.”
Before wrapping up the overnight operation, police and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents posted red warning signs outside the two houses that read: “A clandestine laboratory for the manufacture of illegal drugs and/or hazardous chemicals was seized at this location. Known hazardous chemicals have been disposed of pursuant to law. However, there still may be hazardous substances or waste products on this property, either in buildings or in the ground itself. Please exercise caution while on these premises.”
The DEA’s clandestine laboratory team along with the Atlanta Fire Department was called in to process the laboratory and remove all hazardous material.
Brenda Butler’s house sits in between the two homes that were raided.
“I heard a big bang and I went and looked out the window because my dogs were barking, and [the house next door] was covered with the DEA and the SWAT team and everything else,” Butler said. “They kicked in the door on the left of me and then somebody ran through the yard and they kicked in this fence. There was a lot of action and a lot of guns and a lot of barking from my dogs.”
Butler said her neighbors were nice, but she got suspicious when they erected tall privacy fences around the properties.
“When they started putting these fences up around these two houses,” Butler told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “I said, ‘something’s not right.’”
“I didn’t know all that was going on next door,” Butler said. “It surprised me.”
Staff writer David Markiewicz contributed to this article
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