Martin Ascencio, 49, of Mableton; Gabriel Jimenez Antunez, 39, and Pablo Saucedo Aparicio, 38, both of Mexico; and Javier Munoz Ruiz, 54, of Texas; were all arrested May 12 at a home in Austell.
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service agents learned in May that Jimenez, allegedly a local distributor for a Mexican drug cartel, was coordinating the delivery of a shipment of liquid meth to metro Atlanta and that he would be laundering the proceeds of that drug trafficking activity.
On May 12, agents tracked Ruiz delivering liquid meth in a Ford F-350 pickup truck to a home in Austell. The drug was reportedly stored inside the truck’s gas tank.
Jimenez and Saucedo came to the Austell home with thermoses in tow, which would have been used to transfer and store the liquid meth before it was sold.
Ascencio was in the process of siphoning the gas tank that contained about 75 liters of diesel fuel and liquid meth when agents arrested them and seized the drugs.
Bob Page, a spokesman with the U.S. Department of Justice, said meth dealers use a detailed process to store and remove the drug, and this is a classic example of the lengths they are willing to go.
In this case, the suspects took the gas tank, drained it and almost filled it with a mixture of water and liquid meth, he said.
“They put a small layer of diesel gas on top of it, and since it’s lighter than water, it will not mix and will sit on top,” Page said.
To remove the drug, they would siphon out the diesel first and then the water. They would burn off the water, separating it from the liquid meth, and scrape out the resin.
As a result of this incident, agents also were able to find another 10 pounds of suspected crystal meth at the Austell home, according to the news release.
The indictment charges the defendants with conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, a charge that carries a sentence ranging potentially from 10 years to life.
“A seizure of this size reminds us that Atlanta continues to serve as a focal point for the distribution of methamphetamine,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in the news release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurel Boatright is prosecuting the case.
This is the second major meth bust in south Cobb County within weeks. Another four men were arrested in Cobb on May 29 on trafficking meth charges after police found a half pound of suspected meth in the kitchen of an Austell home. They all remain in the Cobb County Jail on immigration holds.