La Familia trial in Clayton moved to Jan. 10

The trial for a group of alleged members linked to a major Mexican drug cartel has been moved to Jan. 10 to allow time for more defendants to be brought to Clayton County, the district attorney’s office said Friday.

About a dozen defendants believed to be linked to the La Familia Michoacana drug trafficking organization have already pleaded not guilty in Clayton Superior Court in two separate court dates.

They are among 45 people arrested over 18 months in a federally funded investigation involving state and local law enforcement agencies across metro Atlanta. The investigation, known as Operation Chokehold, began in May 2009.

Many of the suspects are in custody in Gwinnett, Henry, Douglas, Fulton, Forsyth, Spalding and Cobb counties, said Erman Tanjuatco, Clayton County chief assistant district attorney.

Samuel Galvan, one of the primary defendants in the case, was arraigned in Clayton Superior Court earlier this week along with two other defendants, Tanjuatco said. A trial date had been set for this Monday, but “it’s being continued because we’re waiting for other defendants who have been arraigned to go through the discovery process.”

“This is one of our largest current cases,” he noted. “We’re trying to get as many people here for the trial date.”

Rescheduling the trial also gives both sides more time to prepare. The local La Familia cell has operations in Spalding, Henry, Clayton, Cobb and Gwinnett counties. It  distributed drugs in Alabama, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Indiana and Washington, investigators said.

More than $2 million in cash, 95 pounds of cocaine, 4,120 pounds of marijuana, 20 firearms and 46 pounds of methamphetamine were seized during the operation.