Comments Off on Mexican trafficking organization used Athens home as ‘stash house’

Members of a Mexican drug trafficking organization used an Athens apartment as a “stash house” to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana throughout the Athens and Atlanta metropolitan areas, according to a search warrant filed last week in Clarke County Superior Court.

Targeted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for nearly three years, the Los Moscas organization leased an apartment at Kathwood Townhouses in north Athens, according to the warrant.

Arturo Rodriguez-Colin

Arturo Rodriguez-Colin
Humberto Mondragon-Ruiz

Humberto Mondragon-Ruiz

Starting in March 2010, agents with the DEA’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Group Two out of Atlanta conducted three investigations into Los Moscas activities that netted more than 50 arrests.

“Each of these enforcement activities have resulted in the disruption of drug distribution cells operating in the United States,” according to the warrant.

“Since the initiation of this investigation, agents have seized more than 217 kilograms of cocaine, 74 kilograms of heroin, more than 52 kilograms of methamphetamine, 5,000 pounds of marijuana and more than $7.9 million in U.S. currency.”

A Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office investigator and member of a DEA task force filed the warrant.

In it, he describes the arrest of Arturo Rodriguez-Colin and his use of the Kathwood Drive apartment as a stash house for Los Moscas.

Investigators last month identified Rodriguez-Colin as head of one of the Mexican drug trafficking organization’s cells, the investigator noted in the warrant.

Drug trafficking organizations, or DTOs, are defined by the U.S. Department of Justice as, “complex organizations with highly defined command-and-control structures that produce, transport, and/or distribute large quantities of one or more illicit drugs.”

Large portions of the illegal drugs entering the country each year belong to DTOs.

“Law enforcement reporting indicates that Mexican DTOs maintain drug distribution networks, or supply drugs to distributors, in at least 230 U.S. cities,” according to the National Drug Intelligence Center.

On Dec. 17, agents learned that Rodriguez-Colin and another man, Humberto Mondragon-Ruiz, planned to transport a large quantity of methamphetamine from Mexico to Athens, according to the warrant filed by the investigator with the Atlanta area DEA task force.

That same day, agents took up surveillance on U.S. Interstate 20 at the Alabama state line and spotted a van occupied by the two men as it entered Georgia, according to the warrant.

A half hour later, officers with the Douglasville Police Department conducted a traffic stop on the van, in which 15 1-pound packages of methamphetamine were concealed in the radiator, according to the warrant.

Authorities then arrested Rodriguez-Colin and Mondragon-Ruiz, a.k.a. Beto, on drug trafficking charges. They are being held without bail at the Douglas County Jail.

“It is believed that Arturo and Beto were transporting the methamphetamine from Mexico to the Kathwood Drive address to process the methamphetamine and then distribute it to their drug customers,” according to the warrant.

The next day, on Dec. 18, DEA agents went to Rodriguez-Colin’s apartment with a drug-sniffing dog from the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. The dog gave positive indications for drugs in both Rodriguez-Colin’s vehicles parked outside, according to the warrant.

The warrant, signed by a Clarke County Superior Court judge, sought permission to search the apartment for additional evidence, including drugs, documentation of drug transactions, cellphones, packaging material and firearms.

When filed with the court clerk’s office, the warrant did not include an inventory of seized contraband. However, the DEA investigator signed a receipt to show he took custody of three birth certificates, one belonging to Rodriguez-Colin, and documentation of seven money transfers.

DTOs use a variety of methods to conceal and move drug proceeds. Among them is the wiring and constant movement of funds from different accounts to make it difficult for authorities to follow the money trail.

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