Drug ring busted, locals arrested

17 members of Mexico-based ring indicted

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ATLANTA – Charges were brought against 17 alleged members of a Mexico-based drug ring May 28, including two Alpharetta and Cumming residents. The federal charges include conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

“This investigation unmasked a massive smuggling conspiracy involving staggering amounts of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine brought into Atlanta from the southwest border, and a significant amount of bulk cash destined for Mexico,” said Special Agent in Charge Brock D. Nicholson, head of Homeland Security Investigations in Atlanta.

According to officials, the group conspired to bring large amounts of drugs into Atlanta from Mexico. They used passenger buses, owned by one of those charged, to transport the drugs from Mexico, across the border into the United States and directly to the Atlanta area.

After unloading the narcotics-laden buses in local warehouses, the men would allegedly distribute the drugs in the Atlanta area, as well as in Florida.

When investigators arrested the men, they seized hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine along with thousands of dollars in cash.

Locally, 11 pounds of methamphetamine were seized on Jan. 3, from an apartment on Jameson Pass in Alpharetta, which was used by the organization as a methamphetamine laboratory. Law enforcement had discovered the lab after an explosion at the apartment.

Twelve suspects have been arrested, including Blanca Hernandez, 41, of Alpharetta. Another five suspects are on the run, including Reynaldo Maldonado-Guipes, 56, of Cumming.