DEA: Meth lab busted near elementary school - CBS46 News

DEA: Meth lab busted near elementary school

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(Source: MGN) (Source: MGN)

DEA agents and DeKalb County law enforcement officials announced a major drug bust. They said they seized more than 400 pounds of methamphetamine from a home near Stone Mountain.

Authorities said suspects were operating a meth conversion lab in a home on Stephenson Road, across the street from an elementary school and not far from a middle and high school. They said the suspects were converting liquid meth into crystal form.

In addition to the the meth, agents seized heroin, cocaine and almost $150,000. Police said the drugs had a street value of close to $13 million.

"This is the largest I’ve seen since I’ve been the chief," said DeKalb County Police Chief James Conroy.

Authorities arrested and charged Juan Perez-Garcia and Pedro Suarez-Rangel, two Mexican nationals. The DEA believes they could be part of a cartel.

"Unfortunately this area has turned into a real hub," said Daniel Salter, Special Agent in Charge with the DEA's Atlanta Field Division.

Salter said methamphetamine gets smuggled into the United States in liquid form.

"They covert it to crystal meth using a process of chemicals and drying it out and ultimately you have the shards of ice that you see on the table," he said, referencing the seized drugs shown during a news conference Tuesday.

Authorities believe the suspects were manufacturing the drugs for some time in the house.

"This was a peaceful neighborhood with loving, caring people that these people tried to assimilate in and we will not tolerate it," said Salter.

Pine Ridge Elementary School is across the street.

Salter said, "We don’t believe at any time was the school in danger, it was just a mechanism for them to blend into the community," he said.

Chief Conroy said, "These type of operations, they set up in normal American households in normal neighborhoods and try to blend in to try to hide their operations and I think that’s what they were doing in this situation.”

Garcia and Rangel face charges including trafficking methamphetamine, trafficking cocaine, trafficking heroin and manufacturing with intent to distribute methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school.

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