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Three arrested in large cocaine bust on Atlanta Highway
0611BUSTNatalioAvila-Zuniga
Natalio Avila-Zuniga

Hall County authorities made their largest drug bust in more than a year when they seized more than 6 pounds of cocaine outside an Atlanta Highway laundromat this week, officials said Thursday.

Lt. Scott Ware of the Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad said three Gainesville men agreed to meet in the parking lot of the Tres Amigos Lavanderia Wednesday to deliver 3 kilograms of cocaine.

The men arrived in two small passenger cars to the prearranged meeting place and made the exchange before officers arrested them. The drugs were found in a shoebox.

The men were arrested without incident.

Natalio Avila-Zuniga, 25, Manuel Esteban Garcia-Gonzalez, 28, and Ernesto Gomez-Rosas, 21, remain in the Hall County Jail without bond on charges of trafficking in cocaine.

The men have no immigration holds and from all indications are U.S. citizens, Ware said. At least one of the suspects worked at a local poultry plant, he said.

Typically such large-scale seizures of cocaine in Hall County involve people delivering the drug to Gainesville from Gwinnett County or elsewhere in metro Atlanta.

In April 2009, seven people were charged with conspiring to deliver 5 kilograms of cocaine to Gainesville. The suspects were from Lawrenceville, Dacula, Atlanta and Dalton.

“A lot of times the drugs will be shipped from Atlanta,” Ware said. The cocaine seized Wednesday “may very well have come from Atlanta. But in preparation for the deal, it was in Gainesville.”

Ware said the suspects agreed to sell the cocaine for $29,000 per kilo, or $87,000.

Using a street price of $100 per gram, authorities placed the street value of the seized cocaine at $300,000.

The case was investigated by MANS, the Gainesville-Hall County Gang Task Force, Gainesville Police Department and the FBI.

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