The Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad seized 42 pounds of methamphetamine base powder found hidden in three fire extingisher tanks. Law officals believe the powder was headed to a lab where it would be turned into crystal meth. Street value is estimated at $546,000.
Four men, above, were arrested in the massive methamphetamine bust.
Press Release - Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad
On January 26, 2016, Agents with the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office arrested an Emerson woman with possession of a trafficking amount of methamphetamine. Bartow investigators believed that the drugs came from a group operating out of Woodstock, Georgia. Based on information from Bartow County, Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad (CMANS) Agents were subsequently able to identify a group of individuals who were selling and importing drugs into Northern Georgia.
After several weeks of investigation in the Woodstock area, CMANS Agents were able to follow one of the subjects, Alberto Gabriel, 43 years old of Woodstock, to Houston, Texas, where they believe that he received a shipment of methamphetamine. During surveillance, CMANS Agents worked with the Houston Police Department to gain valuable evidence about the trafficking group.
On Sunday, February 14, 2016, Gabriel returned to the Woodstock area. CMANS Agents, working with the Woodstock Police Department, located and seized approximately 42 pounds of methamphetamine base powder. The contraband was concealed in three large fire extinguisher tanks. Agents believe this powder was destined for a conversion lab (a facility to turn the powder into crystal methamphetamine) somewhere in Metro Atlanta. Gabriel was charged with Trafficking Methamphetamine.
During the course of the investigation, CMANS Agents were able to introduce undercover operatives into the organization. These operatives were able to successfully purchase large quantities of methamphetamine from several individuals in the organization. Jorge Soberanis, 45 years old of Woodstock, was charged with three counts of Trafficking Methamphetamine. Angel Martinez, 24 years old of Woodstock, was charged with one count of Trafficking Methamphetamine. Alex Penaloza, 26 years old of Woodstock, was charged with one count of Violation of Probation. All four men remain in custody at the Cherokee Adult Detention Center without bond.
Using undercover operatives in an investigation of this nature can be extremely dangerous. This deep commitment to the investigation, and willingness to operate in a covert capacity within a criminal organization whose roots stretch to Mexico, is a testament to the professionalism of the CMANS Agents involved.
CMANS Agents continue to coordinate the follow up of this investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Atlanta-Carolinas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit, the Houston Texas Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Other arrests are possible in both Georgia and Texas.
The Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad is a joint task force working in Cherokee County to investigate drug related violations. Participating agencies include the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, the Canton Police Department, the Woodstock Police Department, the Holly Springs Police Department, the Ball Ground Police Department, the Cherokee County Marshal’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office for the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia State Patrol. Citizens may call in tips anonymously to (770) 345- 7920, or may speak to an agent by calling (678) 493-7625.
For additional information about the Cherokee County portion of the investigation, contact Commander Phillip W. Price at (678) 300-3806.