5 arrested in Cobb drug busts

The busts bring the total quantity of marijuana seized by the Marietta/Cobb/Smyrna Organized Crime Unit this year to 465 pounds, eclipsing last year's total of 450 pounds with more than five months remaining in 2009. Seizures of cocaine have skyrocketed from 12 pounds in 2008 to 215 pounds so far this year, according to statistics provided by the Cobb County Sheriff's Office.

Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren could not be reached for comment Thursday because he was out of town.

The first bust occurred Sunday after Cobb police were called to investigate a "person down" at a residence at 3194 Old 41 Highway in Kennesaw. Eduardo Juarez Rico, 22, was found dead of a suspected cocaine overdose in the living room, according to Cobb police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce.

Agents later discovered 2.7 pounds of cocaine and 2.3 pounds of methamphetamine in a bedroom, according to arrest warrants. Eighteen pounds of marijuana was located in a 1999 Honda at the home. Another 10 pounds of methamphetamine was hidden elsewhere inside the vehicle.

Authorities charged Jorge Junez Rico, unknown age, of Acworth with drug trafficking and Joaquin Uvalle Dominguez, 27, of Kennesaw with cocaine possession.

On Monday, agents searched an upscale townhouse at 1612 Wehunt Place in Smyrna after they received word that the resident would be receiving a large shipment of marijuana. They discovered 232 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $1 million in the townhouse, said Cobb County Sheriff's spokeswoman Nancy Bodiford.

The resident, Edmond Dewayne Hardrick, 26, of Smyrna, was arrested on a charge of marijuana possession and trafficking. Two other people at the townhouse, Lapresha Jo Delveau, 26, of Smyrna, and Ervin Dewan Crenshaw, 34, of Stone Mountain, were also jailed for allegedly trafficking drugs.

The discovery of the drug stash houses in Cobb comes on the heels of an even larger bust in nearby Gwinnett County last week. Gwinnett police confiscated 457 pounds of marijuana and several automatic weapons from a home at 885 Worcester Place in Lilburn after a neighbor tipped off investigators to possible drug activity.

Chuvalo Truesdell, spokesman for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration office in Atlanta, says there is no reason to believe the recently discovered drug stash houses in Cobb and Gwinnett are part of any trend outside of the normal drug trafficking activity that occurs in metro Atlanta. He said local law enforcement agencies may be seeing larger caches of marijuana lately because it's harvest season for outdoor marijuana growers.

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