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Suspected Mexican cartel cocaine shipment nabbed

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Clayton County Police narcotics agents intercepted 66.8 kilos of cocaine, Tuesday night, as it was being shipped from Mexico to Orlando, Fla.

Police say the seizure marks the second time, in recent weeks, county narcotics agents have captured cocaine belonging to one Mexican drug cartel, Deputy Chief Greg Porter said.

In September, the department seized 167 kilos of cocaine, worth $14 million on the street, wrapped in brown plastic, packed in cardboard boxes and entering the United States through a trucking warehouse in Laredo, Texas.

The $8 million shipment seized this week was similarly packaged, bore a similar manifest.

"It was packaged and shipped along the same lines as the previous shipment," Porter said.

Chief Jeff Turner said Clayton County serves as a transportation hub, with a large number of trucking warehouses on the north end, near the intestates, and illegal narcotics are moved through just like every other product.

The police department worked with the shipping companies and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency on the busts. No arrests were made Tuesday, but county narcotics agents said their federal counterparts have made three arrests from the last seizure.

"To reiterate our message, Clayton County is not the place to sell, use, or stash drugs," Turner said. "This is $8 million in drugs off of the street. This is $8 million that someone's not making."

Capt. Mark Thompson, with the department's drug task force, said the seizure not only pulls drugs off the street and hurts a single cocaine operation, but also will likely cause cocaine's cost, on the street, to rise. News of a major seizure, he said, can cause a panic about supply, increasing prices.

The seizure is part of the department's personal war on drugs, the chief said Wednesday.

"We will make a difference in the war on drugs, not only in Clayton County, but in the metro Atlanta area as well," he said.

Turner said the local narcotics agents know a lot about how the drugs are shipped, and how the cocaine supply is flowing from Mexico through the United States and through Clayton County. Little is known, locally, however, about the suspected Mexican cartel shipping the narcotics through Laredo. The DEA is handling that end of the investigation, Turner said.

Last year, the Clayton County Police department seized about $95 million worth of cocaine. Capt. Vance Donald said he expects the cocaine seizures from 2007 will add up to a similar amount.