By Daniel Silliman
Clayton County Narcotics officers seized $14 million worth of cocaine Tuesday -- their largest seizure in 15 years.
The 167 kilos of uncut cocaine were wrapped in brown paper and packed in used, brown McDonalds' boxes, originally containing McNuggets and drink carriers. The boxes, weighing 403-pounds, were packed in an unmarked, 147-pound wooden crate.
The crate was shipped from Laredo, Texas, Chief Jeff Turner said. When the delivery driver, new to the area, couldn't find the DeKalb County address on the wooden crate, he returned it to the warehouse, in College Park, narcotics agents said. The driver called the number, for the parcel, and the people on the phone acted odd, he thought, and he notified security.
Security notified police, Turner said. Responding to the warehouse, a drug dog smelled the cocaine. Agents opened the crate and found the 167, kilo-sized packages.
The Clayton agents, working with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and the Drug Enforcement Agency, delivered the drugs to the address the next day, apprehending the three men who received the package.
The men, identified by the police only as Hispanics, were being questioned in DeKalb County, Wednesday afternoon.
They had not been arrested, and charges were pending, Turner said.
Police do not know where the cocaine originated, before it was shipped from Texas, but they believe it was intended for distribution in the metro Atlanta area, the police chief said.
Turner said the seizure was significant.
"Any time you move this many drugs off of the streets, you are crippling somebody's operation," he said. The cocaine seizure was the second largest ever in Clayton County, according to Deputy Chief Greg Porter. In 1992, the narcotics officers seized 215 kilos of uncut cocaine.
The agents were already aware of drug shipments passing through the northwest corridor of the county, the police chief said. In the last year, the county narcotics agents have seized multiple shipments of marijuana, originating from the southwestern United States and valued at more than $1 million each.
Last week, the Clayton County Sheriff's Office seized about 100 kilos of cocaine at a truck stop in Forest Park.
According to the DEA, metro Atlanta is the drug-distribution hub for the east coast and "stash houses" exist near intestate highways throughout the metro's outlying areas.
Standing behind the stacks and stacks of cocaine packages, Tuesday afternoon, Turner issued harsh words to the intended recipients of the wooden crate.
"I want the message to go out to drug dealers: There is no place for you in Clayton County," he said. "We will aggressively seek you out, arrest you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law."