Hugo Solano-Garcia has been sentenced for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Solano-Garcia was a manager in a sophisticated methamphetamine trafficking operation that sought to distribute more than $1 million worth of drugs in DeKalb and Gwinnett Counties.

“This elaborate ring profited from pumping poison in the form of high-grade methamphetamine into our community,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “When agents took down their operation, it was discovered that the traffickers had used weapons to protect their clandestine labs. All but one of the defendants in this case, including Solano-Garcia, were in this country illegally. In the end, the payout for each of them is a long federal prison sentence and then deportation.”

Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division stated, “Drug dealing breeds violence and the traffickers who engage in this dangerous lifestyle often protect their ill-gotten gains with dangerous weapons, as was the case in this investigation. DEA, the entire law enforcement community and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are committed to making the citizens of metropolitan Atlanta and elsewhere safer by removing dangerous criminals form their neighborhoods.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court: Beginning in July 2017, agents with the DEA and the Atlanta-Carolina High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program began investigating Solano-Garcia and his associates for trafficking methamphetamine that had been smuggled from Mexico into the Atlanta area.

Over the course of the investigation, federal and local law enforcement agents uncovered a series of stash houses and methamphetamine conversion laboratories in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties where the defendants would convert liquid methamphetamine into crystal methamphetamine for distribution, sometimes hiding the illicit drugs in hollowed-out fire extinguishers and car batteries. The defendants barricaded some of these conversion laboratories and guarded them with guns.

Agents raided one conversion laboratory in Brookhaven on January 30, 2018, where they found approximately 130 pounds of methamphetamine in crystal and liquid form and three firearms, including an AR-15-style rifle. This is believed to be one of the largest methamphetamine seizures in the history of the city of Brookhaven.

Hugo Solano-Garcia, a/k/a Gordo, 31, of Michoacán, Mexico, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May to 20 years in federal prison, and he will be deported subsequent to completing his term of incarceration.

In total, nine other defendants were indicted in this conspiracy in addition to Solano-Garcia, and eight have been sentenced, including:

♦Gerardo Calderon-Pacheco, a/k/a Plebe, age 22, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced on March 15, 2019 to 12 years in federal prison for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine;

♦Valentin Solano-Salas, age 22, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced on March 10, 2019 to 15 years in federal prison for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime;

♦Juan Confesor Camilo, a/k/a Jean Carlos Camilo, a/k/a Tigre, age 38, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced on March 19, 2019 to four years and three months in federal prison for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine;

♦Aldrin Barajas-Ramirez, age 44, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced on April 11, 2019 to 15 years in federal prison for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime;

♦Miguel Pacheco-Penaloza, age 20, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced on May 3, 2019 to 9 years in federal prison for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime;

♦ Octavio Pacheco-Torres, a/k/a Burro, age 26, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced on December 10, 2018 to 10 years in federal prison for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine;

♦Sair Calderon-Pacheco, age 20, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced on February 6, 2019 to 5 years and 10 months in federal prison for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine; and

♦Joaquin Reyes-Guillen, a/k/a Aviel Cabrera-Hernandez, age 35, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced on December 11, 2019 to five years and three months in federal prison for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Atlanta-Carolina High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, and the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of State, DeKalb County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Unit, Georgia State Patrol, Gwinnett County Police Department, and Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas N. Joy and Erin H. Harris prosecuted the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site: www.justthinktwice.gov.

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