Feds make historic meth bust
350 pounds seized in largest haul in eastern US

DULUTH - Federal authorities made two sizable methamphetamine busts within hours of each other at homes near Duluth last weekend, contributing to the largest seizure of the drug ever seen in the eastern United States, an official said.

Agents with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and DEA Atlanta pulled about 350 pounds of Mexican crystal methamphetamine - commonly referred to as "ice" - off the streets in a recent special operation.

Details of the operation won't be divulged until a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. today in Atlanta, DEA spokesman Chuvalo Truesdell said.

But warrants filed in Gwinnett show HIDTA agents arrested four men on charges of meth-trafficking after busts at Duluth homes late Sunday and early Monday.

One of the homes is located a few doors down from a quadruple shooting on Buckingham Place this week that Gwinnett police are calling drug-related. Police have said the incidents don't appear to be related.

According to warrants, all four men possessed about 100 pounds of the drug at homes on Cambridge Park Drive and Buckingham Place. The meth was "packaged for distribution," the warrants say.

On the street, that much meth could fetch about $7.7 million, according to a narcotics investigator with the Gwinnett County Police Department.

A pound of meth is typically worth $22,000 in the Gwinnett area, police spokesman Cpl. David Schiralli said.

All four suspects are listed as Mexican-born Duluth residents. Charged with felony trafficking are:

· Jose Rafael Lopez-Jimenez, 34;

· Gerardo Antonio Urena-Esquivel, 35;

· Luis Naranjo-Leon, 23;

· Hugo Flores Rios (aka Fernando Chavez-Chavez), 29

The suspects remain at the Gwinnett County Jail without bond. Rios is being held for federal immigration authorities.