A traffic stop, a search at a Dahlonega residence and further investigation into an alleged methamphetamine conversion lab led to the seizure of a reported 30 kilograms of methamphetamine, according to authorities.
The Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement office said Saturday it had taken part in an investigation leading to a dismantled multimillion-dollar meth conversion lab, where liquid meth is turned to its crystal form.
Angel Luis Rivera-Santiago, 42, of Norcross, and Victor Rafael Aponte, 30, of Dahlonega, were the subject of a traffic stop, which led to 15 kilograms of methamphetamine.
Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office authorities and FBI agents later searched a Flanders Road home in Dahlonega.
“Valentine Duarte-Vejar ran from this residence but was (captured) in the possession of a handgun,” according to the regional drug enforcement office. “This search warrant yielded a few grams of cocaine and $166,000.”
The agents said an alleged conversion lab was found in Suches, in the mountains north of Dahlonega, where a handgun and 15 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine were seized.
“ARDEO agents processed approximately 300 pounds of environmental waste largely containing methamphetamine oil,” according to the drug enforcement office. “Agents on scene estimated this lab was capable of producing a minimum of 25-50 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine at a time.”
The estimated street value of the 30 kilograms seized is $3.2 million.
Rivera-Santiago, Aponte and Valentine Duarte-Vejar, 25, of Dahlonega, were charged with trafficking methamphetamine.
Eleoncio Perez-Pineda, 29, of Dahlonega, and Jose Mario Duarte-Vejar, 25, of Dahlonega, were arrested in Dahlonega and charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
All five men were taken to the Lumpkin County Detention Center, where the immigration status of the men is “still pending,” according to the drug enforcement office.
The case is still under investigation, as there are additional charges pending in Union County.