News Release
March 6, 2006

Defendants Plead Guilty In Meth “Superlab” Case

Atlanta, GA - Two defendants charged with operating a methamphetamine “Superlab” in a residential neighborhood in Cobb County entered guilty pleas today before United States District Judge Clarence Cooper. The “Superlab,” located at 200 Church Road in Smyrna, was the first “Superlab” discovered in Georgia and one of only a handful discovered on the East Coast.

"The dismantling of this Superlab represents a significant blow to methamphetamine traffickers in Georgia," said United States Attorney David E. Nahmias. “At the same time, the discovery of such a large lab here in Atlanta reveals the growing threat that methamphetamine poses to our citizens. The fact that this superlab is one of the few discovered on the entire East Coast, and certainly the first one detected in Georgia, is a distinction no community wants. We will continue to focus our efforts on attacking meth production and distribution in North Georgia.”

DEA Special Agent In Charge Sherri Strange said of the case, “DEA and our law enforcement partners here in Atlanta are keeping our promise to aggressively identify and stop meth production, distribution, and trafficking by cutting off every access to the drug and the materials necessary to manufacture the drug. At the same time we have been pro-active in educating anyone who will listen to us on the dangers of using meth. It is not a recreational drug and we remain committed to eradicating it from our communities."

According to United States Attorney David E. Nahmias and the documents and information presented in court:

DEA agents arrested three defendants, IGNACIO CORTES-VALENCIA, 24, an illegal alien originally from Michoacan, Mexico; GUSTAVO LARA-MURILLO, 31, an illegal alien originally from Colima, Mexico, and RAMON OSEGUERA-ALANIS, 34, an illegal alien originally from Michoacan, Mexico, in February 2005 after tips from confidential sources led the agents to obtain a search warrant for the residence, court records show.

Once the agents entered the residence, they immediately discovered the unusual size and capacity of the lab. According to information presented during the plea hearing, agents seized 5.2 kilograms (12.4 pounds) of ice methamphetamine, fully manufactured and packaged in one-pound bags for distribution, hidden inside a cabinet in the kitchen. The agents also seized an additional pound of ice methamphetamine from a vehicle parked in the driveway.

Inside the basement of the residence, the agents found an array of equipment set up for the manufacturing of methamphetamine and reprocessing of the methamphetamine into its more potent and addictive form, ice methamphetamine, court records show.

The agents also found 24 large trash bags stuffed with emptied pseudoephedrine tablet boxes, as well as containers holding approximately 35 pounds of pure d-psuedophedrine hydrochloride, court records show. According to evidence presented during the plea hearing, the pure pseudophedrine appeared to have been extracted from the tablets in the empty boxes, yielding one of the final precursors in the meth manufacturing process. According to information presented during the hearing, the 35 pounds of psuedophedrine seized in the basement would yield another 20 to 30 pounds of pure methamphetamine. Finally, the agents discovered five 55-gallon containers holding what a lab expert identified to be the liquid byproduct of the methamphetamine manufacturing process.

The two defendants pleading guilty today, IGNACIO CORTES-VALENCIA, 24, an illegal alien originally from Michoacan, Mexico, and GUSTAVO LARA-MURILLO, 31, an illegal alien originally from Colima, Mexico each pleaded guilty to three counts alleged in the Indictment: (1) conspiring to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine; (2) manufacturing methamphetamine; and (3) possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it. Sentencing for IGNACIO CORTES-VALENCIA and GUSTAVO LARA-MURILLO is set for May 25, 2006, at 4 p.m. before Judge Cooper. Trial for the third defendant, RAMON OSEGUERA-ALANIS, is set for March 20, 2006.

This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the DEA, the DEA MCS (Marietta, Cobb, Smyrna) Task Force, the Atlanta Police Department, the Roswell Police Department, the City of Clarkston Police Department, and the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Assistant United States Attorneys John Horn and Richard Rice are prosecuting the case.