LAWRENCEVILLE - Police say it had all the makings of a regular dentist's office. Two dental chairs. An X-ray machine. Hundreds of little vials with medicines that anesthetize.
But one vital component - a dentistry license - was absent, police say.
Gwinnett police busted a Lawrenceville residence this week they suspect housed an illegal dentistry practice for at least a year. More than 50 patients received dental work at the 1361 Timbercrest Court home, police said Friday.
The case marks Lawrenceville's second faux dentistry practice shut down since May. But police aren't convinced unlicensed dentistries are prevalent in Gwinnett.
"There is no indication that this is a common occurrence," Gwinnett County Police Department spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman said. "This occurs on an occasional basis in the metro (Atlanta) area, including Gwinnett."
Acting on a tip, narcotic investigators arrested a woman and three men during the 2 a.m. bust Wednesday.
Police have charged Carina Alejandra Hernandez-Rodriguez, 29, with practicing dentistry without a license, a felony. The others face related drug charges.
Rodriguez could face up to 5 years in prison and a $1,000 fine if convicted of practicing without a license. She remains in jail on more than $60,000 bond.
The three men - Hector Armando Najera, 21, Jose Lucas Martinez-Rodriguez, 51, and Oscar Estanislao Najera-Najera, 27 - were arrested Wednesday at the same address.
All four residents face five counts of selling, distributing or possession of dangerous drugs.
Police seized two dental chairs, an X-ray machine, dentistry tools and 377 vials of drugs used to anesthetize patients. Police listed the drugs as Octacaine, Septacaine, Citanest Forte and Citanest Plaine.
Spellman could offer no blanket explanation as to why Gwinnett residents sometimes resort to operating at-home dentistries.
"I can't speculate about what motivates citizens to operate illegal practices," Spellman said. "That may depend on the individual and their unique circumstance."
Spellman said Friday she could not verify the immigration status of those charged.