Drug agents kill suspect in shootout

NORCROSS - A suspected drug trafficker was shot and killed Friday after he fired upon federal agents who were raiding his home.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents were serving a search warrant at 5:30 a.m. at a duplex on Harbins Road in Norcross when a brief gun battle erupted, said DEA Special Agent in Charge Sherri F. Strange. Luise Uribe reportedly ducked into a bedroom closet to retrieve a handgun, then turned and fired at five federal agents as they were entering the room.

The agents shot back, killing Uribe.

Another suspect who was in the room, Sinuhe Burgos-Urieta, 19, of Mexico, was grazed by a bullet. He was treated by paramedics at the scene and released into DEA custody. Uribe's girlfriend, 34-year-old Floridalma Leiva-Portillo, of Guatemala, was also arrested.

Leiva-Portillo and Burgos-Urieta both face federal charges related to conspiracy to possess and distribute drugs. Strange said the raid Friday was the result of a five-month-long investigation into a Mexican drug trafficking ring believed to be storing drugs at the duplex.

Uribe was thought to be a key player in the organization, Strange said.

Gwinnett County police and federal agents continued to gather evidence at the crime scene until about 5 p.m. Friday, dozens of their unmarked cars lining Harbins Road. The duplex stands alone at the end of a dirt drive, barely visible from the road due to dense foliage in the front yard. It is located between a children's day care center and a church.

DEA agents displayed a cardboard box containing stacks of cash wrapped with rubber bands and a plastic tub containing about 30 kilograms of powder cocaine seized from the house. The value of the cocaine was estimated at approximately $100,000 and the cash total was estimated to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"Drug traffickers are known to protect their operations and collect their debts through the use of violence, fear and intimidation," Strange said. "Law enforcement officers place their lives on the line every time they take enforcement action against drug traffickers. DEA Agents and our task force partners constantly train in the event they are confronted with violence, and I believe they responded to a deadly threat this morning with professionalism and valor."

The Gwinnett County Police Department, which assisted DEA agents, is investigating the shooting along with the District Attorney's Office.