A routine traffic stop in Lumpkin County led to police finding more than 30 pounds of methamphetamine, and eventually led them to uncover a multimillion dollar methamphetamine trafficking operation out of a home lab in rural Georgia, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.
On Friday, Sept. 15, police pulled over Angel Luis Rivera- Santiago and Victor Rafael Aponte during a routine traffic stop. In the vehicle, they uncovered 15 kilograms (about 33 pounds) of methamphetamine.
Further investigation led Lumpkin County authorities and FBI agents to a home on Flanders Road in Dahlonega, GA. A woman, identified by police as Valentine Duarte-Vejar, ran from residence with a gun but was captured by police. Police found $166,000 and some cocaine in the home.
Following other leads eventually led them to find a methamphetamine conversion laboratory in rural Suches, Ga. A conversion lab is used to turn liquid methamphetamine into its crystal form.
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Police found a gun and another 15 kilograms of methamphetamine at the lab, along with 300 pounds of environmental waste containing methamphetamine oil. The total street value of the 30 kilograms of methamphetamine is more than $3 million.
Agents said the lab was likely capable of producing a minimum of 25-50 kilograms of methamphetamine at once.
“This short but effective investigation was a federal, state, and local partnership that disrupted and dismantled a drug distribution network’s attempt to flood our communities with this destructive drug for their own financial gain,” the GBI wrote.
Angel Luis Rivera- Santiago, 42, of Norcross, Victor Rafael Aponte, 30, of Dahlonega and Valentine Duarte-Vejar, 25, of Dahlonega were charged with trafficking methamphetamine. Eleoncio Perez-Pineda, 29, of Dahlonega, and Jose Mario Duarte-Vejar, 25, of Dahlonega were later arrested and charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE