A Georgia man and four of his associates are heading to prison for running a drug ring and laundering money in Rome, prosecutors say.
The charges stem from a 2018 investigation where prosecutors say they learned that 39-year-old Juan Cain "Chapa" Valencia-Ramirez was operating a methamphetamine processing and distribution ring by smuggling meth into the country from Mexico in car gas tanks.
Once getting the drugs to the area, prosecutors say Valencia-Ramirez would sell the meth in metro Atlanta and northwest Georgia.
They added that Valencia-Ramirez would also direct his associates to deposit thousands of dollars in drug money into various bank accounts.
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When DEA agents and police officers raided his stash house in 2018, they found 176 kilograms of crystal meth, which had an approximate street value of $1.1 million. The drugs were buried in camouflaged ice chests in the woods surrounding the house.
Valencia-Ramirez then fled to Houston, Texas where prosecutors say he continued to run his drug ring. DEA agents found another 17 kilograms of meth at a stash house in Houston.
He was eventually arrested in June 2019 in Smyrna.
After being found guilty of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine, attempted distribution of methamphetamine and conspiracy to launder money in November 2021. He has now been sentenced to 22 years in federal prison.
"No matter how sophisticated the techniques get for smuggling drugs, the DEA and its law enforcement partners remain a step ahead of criminals and will deny them the opportunity to destroy communities with their insidious drugs," said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division.
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Four other co-defendants pleaded guilty.
Javier Rivera, 26, of Lawrenceville was sentenced to 17 years and one month in prison with five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and conspiracy to launder money.
Luis Perez, 28, of Norcross was sentenced to 11 years and 10 months in prison with five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Ricky McPherson, 26, of Rome was sentenced to five years and five months in prison with five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Jasmine Garcia, 24, of Lawrenceville pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, conspiracy to launder money and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. She has not yet been sentenced.
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