Street racing organizers arrested after blocking traffic on I-85, cops say

The arrests come as metro Atlanta police departments continue efforts to crack down on illegal street racing events that have become more prevalent since the start of the pandemic.

Credit: DeKalb County Police Department

Credit: DeKalb County Police Department

The arrests come as metro Atlanta police departments continue efforts to crack down on illegal street racing events that have become more prevalent since the start of the pandemic.

Three Marietta men were arrested early Saturday after police said they blocked the northbound lanes of I-85 in DeKalb County so car enthusiasts could do burnouts and doughnuts on the interstate.

The arrests come as metro Atlanta police departments continue efforts to crack down on illegal street racing events that have become more prevalent since the start of the pandemic.

According to the Georgia State Patrol, troopers responded to I-85 just before 2 a.m. after receiving information that street racers were blocking several lanes near the I-285 interchange so other vehicles could “lay drag.”

“As units moved to that area, they were given information about a crash that was caused by the vehicles blocking the interstate,” GSP spokeswoman Lt. Stephanie Stallings said. “As the units arrived on scene, they observed a black Chevrolet pickup truck begin to travel north on I-85 from the crash scene.”

No injuries were reported in the wreck, but troopers said the black pickup truck matched the description of a vehicle that was used as a “spotter” for some of the racers who gathered on the interstate. Authorities stopped the truck about a mile away and arrested three people inside, Stallings said.

The driver of the pickup, 19-year-old Luis Paga, was identified as one of the organizers of the drag racing event, police said. He was arrested on a host of traffic violations, including racing, improper stopping in the roadway, impeding traffic flow, HOV lane violation, obstructing the highway, violating Georgia’s hands-free law, stopping, standing or parking in a prohibited place and driving without a license the GSP said. He was also cited for a tire violation.

His passengers, 19-year-old Luis Fernando Castillo-Mendez and 21-year-old Jose Esparza Duenas, also of Marietta, were charged with racing. All three were booked into the DeKalb County Jail, online records show.

Hours earlier, DeKalb police announced they charged a 23-year-old accused of injuring a bystander last weekend while doing doughnuts on I-85 South under Spaghetti Junction.

According to police, Kristopher Anthony Repka is believed to be “an active member of the Atlanta racing scene.”

The Sandy Springs man faces six charges, including reckless driving, hit and run, laying drag, not having a license plate, driving the wrong way on a one-way road and driving without a valid license.

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