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4 nabbed in meth-trafficking cases

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Four Gwinnett men involved in methamphetamine trafficking were arrested recently in two separate cases, each involving smaller amounts ready for consumption on the street, documents show.

Two of the Wednesday arrests happened when deputies serving a warrant found a stash; the others resulted from a months-long undercover investigation.

In the latter case, Gwinnett police charged Lilburn resident Sandro Damian-Miranda, 37, with four counts of trafficking meth. He sold between 29 grams and two ounces of the drug to undercover police in three transactions between July and Nov. 30, according to arrest warrants.

His alleged bodyguard in the latest transaction, Lilburn resident Christian Madrano, 24, is also charged with trafficking.

In the other case, Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department deputies arrested two Suwanee men -- Armando Villa-Almonte, 45, and Catalino Gomes-Torres, 25 -- after serving a warrant at their Peregrine Trail home off Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road and allegedly finding 38 grams of meth.

Gwinnett has gained notoriety in recent years as a hotbed for Mexican cartels looking to springboard drugs in bulk to major markets on the Eastern Seaboard -- or to store the products in stash houses. In terms of methamphetamine, experts say the county's plentiful, nondescript housing provides suitable camouflage for laboratories, where cartel operatives convert the drug into a form that can be smoked, snorted or injected.

Yet authorities have stressed that surprisingly little of the drug has trickled into Gwinnett communities, as evidenced by its relative scarcity in the county's school system.

All of the suspects but Madrano, the alleged bodyguard, hail from Mexico and are being held for federal immigration officials, jail records show. None have bond.