Dead man leads Gwinnett police to $12 million marijuana stash

A dead man led Gwinnett County police to $12 million worth of marijuana on Monday.

Gwinnett County police spokeswoman Cpl. Michele Pihera said officers went to a storage yard near Norcross around 11 a.m., after a 911 caller reported finding "a man slumped over near a white van." The man — later identified as 31-year-old Connecticut resident Johnny Taylor — was dead, apparently from natural causes.

Officers "looking around the scene for signs of foul play" soon "noticed a very faint smell of suspected marijuana coming from inside the van." K9s were called to the scene and didn't detect anything, but a box inside the van was eventually opened — and a large amount of marijuana was discovered inside, sealed in bags.

Similar boxes were found inside the tractor-trailer.

"After a search warrant was obtained," Pihera said in a news release, "several hundred pounds of marijuana were seized. The street value is approximately $12 million." An exact number was not released, but Pihera said more than 500 pounds of pot were recovered.

There were no signs of trauma to Taylor's body, police said, and it's believed he died of natural causes. Security footage shows him pulling up in the van around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, just minutes after another man pulled up in the tractor trailor and left in a gold Toyota Camry.

That man has been questioned by police but has not been charged, Pihera said.

The storage yard is located at 6275 Best Friend Road. 

Anyone with information is asked to call Gwinnett police at 770-513-5300. Tipsters can also remain anonymous — and be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000 — by contacting CrimeStoppers at 404-577-TIPS or

Monday's bust is the second one in Gwinnett this year that recovered more than 500 pounds of marijuana. In February, members of the Gwinnett Metro Task Force seized about a quarter-ton of the drug from a single U-Haul van.

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