ATLANTA (CBS46) — More than 1,600 pounds of meth worth about $4.5 million is off the streets after the DEA busted a meth conversion lab in Ellenwood.

According to the DEA, they also arrested three men from Mexico who are in the country illegally. The men also belong to a drug cartel, according to the DEA.

Special Agent in Charge Rob Murphy told CBS46 that the entire basement of a house in Ellenwood was being used to process methamphetamine. The floor above was being used to dry the product.

Murphy says the amount that was discovered is a "staggering" amount of methamphetamine. "This was not a mom-and-pop operation," said Murphy.

Murphy also said that the meth wasn't intended to stay here, but would "obviously" be shipped up and down the coast.

Several hundred candles were lit inside of the home.

"Normally what we find, especially when we're dealing with the Mexican cartel members, there are candles paying homage to the patron saint of narcotic traffickers -- Malverde -- and then to Santa Muerte, the patron saint of death."

Murphy said they do this to ward off law enforcement.

Murphy also said that such a significant amount of methamphetamine is dangerous.

"This amount of violate chemicals could have been a disaster."

Murphy says that drug traffickers look for houses they can rent in a nice, quiet neighborhood for a number of reasons -- they don't want the attention from law enforcement and they don't want attention from other drug dealers who may be looking to fob them.

Murphy says almost a ton of meth was seized from the house.

"It's not easy for the cartel to get people into the metro Atlanta area that have this skill set. So, these are significant people that we were able to take off," said Murphy.

"They're not going to stop. They'll keep sending people and we're not going to stop either. We'll keep attacking them when they send them."

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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