Suburbs provided cover for Mexican drug cartel

One of the most dangerous and successful Mexican drug trafficking organizations quietly infiltrated the Atlanta suburbs and used a network of houses to store drugs, refine methamphetamine and house high-level members.

La Familia Michoacana operated a multi-million dollar drug smuggling industry right under the noses of unsuspecting neighbors until late 2009, when 1,186 members in 19 states were arrested as part of Project Coronado, the largest law enforcement action ever undertaken in the U.S. against a Mexican drug cartel.

The Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted 69 defendants connected with the cartel, opened its case files on the La Familia investigation for the first time in September and granted The Atlanta Journal-Constitution exclusive access to its contents.

The AJC examined the files, interviewed numerous neighbors and spoke with investigators to provide an in-depth look at the cartel’s crime bosses and how they operated. It’s a story you’ll only get by logging on to the paper’s iPad app. Subscribe today.

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