Fourteen defendants – including an Alpharetta resident – have been indicted for drug trafficking and money laundering crimes after a multi-agency investigation, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, and the David G. Wilhelm Organized Crime Drug Enforcement (OCDETF) Strike Force announced in a news release today.
A federal grand jury returned two indictments charging the 14 defendants on July 25. The indictments were unsealed on Aug. 1, in conjunction with a sweep aimed at arresting those charged. Today U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman conducted a detention hearing for one group of defendants, and ordered that each defendant be detained.
The news release stated that according to Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: In January 2011, federal law enforcement officers began investigating a Mexican cocaine and marijuana drug trafficking organization operating in the metro Atlanta area. The organization allegedly used several distributors, brokers and couriers to distribute wholesale quantities of cocaine and marijuana onto the streets of Atlanta and elsewhere, including defendants Nicholas Jackson and his “right-hand-man” Darren Dunlap. During the course of the investigation, approximately 8 kilograms of cocaine, 75.6 kilograms of marijuana and $800,000 in cash were seized.
As a result of this investigation, the following individuals were charged with offenses including conspiracy to traffic cocaine and marijuana and launder drug money:
- Alejandro Maldonado, a/k/a “Patino,”41, of Mableton;
- Eduardo Renteria-Maldonado, a/k/a “Quinni,” 26, residence unknown;
- Jay Hernandez-Santana, a/k/a “Borrego,” 32, of Mableton;
- Jose Luis Cano-Pacheco, age unknown, of Conyers;
- Aly Lozano, a/k/a “Yanez,” 40, of Alpharetta;
- David Gomez, a/k/a “Marcos,” 37, of Atlanta;
- Nicholas Jackson, 38, of Norcross;
- Darren Dunlap, 45, of Decatur; and
- Jesus Uriel Celis-Pineda, a/k/a “Eustorgio Echeverria-Sanchez,” 50, residence unknown.
During the investigation of the group charged in the first indictment, OCDETF agents and prosecutors began to follow evidence of a related Mexican crystal methamphetamine drug trafficking criminal organization also operating in the metro Atlanta area. The following individuals were charged with offenses including conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and launder drug money, the release said:
- Ivan Najera-Suazo, 30, of Mexico;
- Domingo Najera-Perez, 60, of Mableton, Georgia;
- Rogelio Benetiz, a/k/a “Roy,” 26, place of residence unknown;
- Alejandro Santana, 45, of Mableton, Georgia; and
- Luis Santabanas, a/k/a “Neco,” age unknown, of Austell, Georgia.
A detention hearing for the defendants arrested in this case will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 8, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman.
Defendant Darren Dunlap has not yet been arrested and remains at large. Defendants Ivan Najera-Suazo and Alejandro Santana have not yet been arrested and are believed to be in Mexico. Anyone with information about their whereabouts should contact the U.S. Marshals Service 24-hour number 1-877-WANTED2 (1-877-926-8332) or the DEA Atlanta Field Division at 404-893-7000.
The investigation and prosecution of this case is a coordinated effort through the David G. Wilhelm OCDETF Strike Force which is comprised of Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI); Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the United States Marshal Service (USMS), working with other state and local law enforcement agencies.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.