By Christopher Seward
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Federal authorities say they have arrested 16 suspects and dismantled a major Mexican drug trafficking ring operating out of metro Atlanta.
U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said alleged drug traffickers and money launderers were arrested early Wednesday as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's three-year "Operation G-60″ investigation. She said more than $7 million worth of cocaine and more than $ 1 million in "dirty drug money" was confiscated.
“Operation G-60 has dealt a severe blow to the Mexican drug cartels operating in the metro Atlanta area," Yates said.
"These traffickers were clearly working under the direction of Mexican drug cartel leadership," said John S. Comer, acting special agent in charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. " The substances that they distributed clearly destroyed lives."
The federal charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $4 million.
Agents seized 312 kilograms of cocaine, about 1,525 kilograms of marijuana and more than $1.5 million in drug money. Wednesday's arrests were part of a criminal indictment handed down by a federal grand jury on May 11 in which 32 individuals were charged for their participation in various drug-related criminal offenses, including conspiring and possessing with intent to distribute at least 5 kilograms of cocaine and at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, as well as related money laundering charges.
Yates said the trafficking ring consisted of several “cells” in the Atlanta area. Some of those arrested allegedly were responsible for transporting drugs and drug money, and maintaining “stash houses” and vehicles used by the organization in metro Atlanta.
The suspects arrested included Marvin Edleman Rodas-Perez, 39 of Norcross; Fatima Vasquez, 24, of Lawrenceville; Jose Valencia, 34, of Stockbridge; Martin Ayala-Casteneda, 34, of College Park; Jose Vargas, 29, of Morrow; Jose Sanchez-Valencia, 22, of Stockbridge; Geovany Martinez-Vargas, 23, of Stockbridge; Sonia Sanchez, 34, of Atlanta; Carmen Barbosa Mendoza, 33, of Gwinnett County; Tomar Shaw, 32, of Fairburn; David Sanchez, 31, of Johns Creek; Juan Castinanda, 25, of Johns Creek; Rudy Valencia, 27, of Johns Creek; Roberto Lopez-Martinez, 28, of Atlanta; Wilson Tejada, 30, of New York, NY; and Maria Del Rosario Diaz-Garcia, 28. No city was given for Diaz-Garcia.