ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News was there when agents raided a Gwinnett County home that was allegedly used in a multi-million dollar, Mexico-based drug ring.
During the raid, eight Gwinnett County sheriff's office SWAT team members were injured when they raided a house that allegedly stored methamphetamines related to the drug operation.
After the bust at the house, Channel 2's Mark Winne went along with agents as they investigated a bus that was used in the operation.
ICE Homeland Security Investigations Agent in Charge Brock Nicholson said with info from Homeland Security, a Cobb County police officer pulled the bus over and a convoy escorted it to a safe area.
[How thorough was the search of this bus?] “It was super thorough. This bus had been previously stopped and been searched and they found nothing,” Nicholson said.
Seventeen members of the drug ring were indicted on federal charges Wednesday, including conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
"These defendants are charged with using the metropolitan Atlanta area as their hub for the importation and distribution of millions of dollars worth of illegal deadly drugs," said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "As a result of the tremendous cooperation between federal agencies and local law enforcement partners, this drug ring is now out of business."
According to Yates, the massive operation was led by Atenogenes Alvarado-Delgado, who allegedly conspired with his brother, Jose Alvarado-Delgado and associates. Reberiano Arroyo-Santana and Manuel Arroyo-Delgado, Jr., imported large amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin into the Atlanta area from Mexico.
The investigation revealed the organization used passenger buses, owned by Alejandro Carmona, 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, Jose Antonio Pineda-Maldanado, Enrique Arroyo, Blanca Hernandez, Rufino Pineda-Perez and Miguel Salinas would allegedly distribute the drugs in the Atlanta area, as well as in Florida. Jose Cardenas-Garcia allegedly off-loaded drugs and loaded drug proceeds into elaborate concealed compartments in the buses. Rubi Torres-Aguilar, Yarely Pineda, and Reynaldo Maldonado-Guipes also allegedly transported drug proceeds on the buses in their suitcases. Alan Arnold Lopez allegedly supervised the border crossings of the buses and also traveled to the Atlanta area aboard at least one drug-filled bus.
A Department of Homeland Security official said the drug bust operation was carried out by more than a dozen agencies.
"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. "Thanks to a complex and coordinated effort by more than a dozen federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, we have been able to dismantle this transnational criminal network and bring these perpetrators to justice."