Operation Four Horsemen Dismantles Two Major Mexican Drug Trafficking Cells Operating in Metro Atlanta
Over 400 Kilograms of Cocaine & $21 Million in Cash Seized in the Atlanta Area During the Past Year
AUG 28 -- ATLANTA, GA - Cells of two separate major Mexican drug trafficking organizations operating in metro Atlanta have been dismantled through federal indictments and arrests after a two-year investigation dubbed “Operation Four Horsemen.” The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and coordinated through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program.
DEA Atlanta Field Division (AFD) Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Rodney G. Benson said, “The DEA, along with a dynamic level of cooperation between a myriad of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, delivered a stunning blow to this once-thriving drug distribution network. The seizure of over $21 million in U.S. currency and the removal of close to one ton of cocaine clearly illustrates that the DEA and other investigating agencies intend to put an end to the drug trafficking activities of Mexican cartels and others operating in our area.”
United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said of the case, “We commend the DEA and other agents whose hard work has resulted in shutting down these two groups that distributed so much cocaine into our communities in Georgia and other states. Operation Four Horsemen cut off the flow of this poison onto our streets and also seized millions of dollars of the drug traffickers’ dirty money.”
The investigation resulted in the seizure of 412 kilograms of cocaine (with an estimated wholesale street value of over $10,000,000) and $21,115,252 in U.S. currency, nearly all of which was seized in the Atlanta area within the past year. In the two indictments handed down by a federal grand jury, a total of 18 individuals are charged with various crimes including conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and related money laundering offenses. The indictments also include forfeiture provisions through which the United States seeks the forfeiture of all proceeds from the alleged criminal offenses.
The defendants arrested to date in connection with this investigation are:
ALEJANDRO ACOSTA SOBERANIS, 37, of Mexico
All of the above defendants were arrested in the Atlanta area, with the exception of ROBERTO CARLOS DE LOS SANTOS, who was arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The remaining defendants are fugitives, and at least two are believed to be in Mexico.
According to United States Attorney Nahmias, the charges, and other information presented in court revealed the following: Beginning in mid-2007, the DEA initiated an investigation which ultimately uncovered two Mexico-based drug trafficking cells operating in the Atlanta area. The investigation revealed that the cells operated in a similar fashion, receiving multi-kilogram shipments of cocaine that arrived in tractor-trailers from Mexico. After the drug traffickers received the cocaine shipments, they shipped millions of dollars in U.S. currency back to Mexico by concealing the money in tractor-trailers and other vehicles.
The seizures of U.S. currency include:
On September 3, 2008, $1,040,120 in U.S. currency was seized pursuant to a traffic stop of a tractor-trailer on I-20 in Carroll County. The currency was picked up in Atlanta and destined for Mexico.
On December 3, 2008, $1,023,465 in U.S. currency was seized pursuant to a traffic stop of a tractor-trailer on I-20 in Carroll County. The currency was picked up in Atlanta and destined for Mexico.
On December 7, 2008, $8,824,950 in U.S. currency was seized pursuant to a traffic stop of a tractor-trailer on I-85 in Troup County. The currency was picked up in North Fulton County and destined for Mexico.
On January 22, 2009, $4,754,159 in U.S. currency was seized pursuant to a traffic stop of a vehicle on I-75 in Henry County. The currency was picked up at the Mall of Georgia and destined for Mexico.
On July 7, 2009, agents seized $51,400 in U.S. currency during the execution of a search warrant on a single-family residence located at 2971 Hollow Mill Lane in Buford.
On August 4, 2009, agents seized $5,241,180 in U.S. currency which was concealed inside of a bus parked outside of a hotel on Paces Ferry Road in the Vinings area. The money is believed to be destined for Mexico. On the same date, agents seized $179,978 in U.S. currency during the execution of a search warrant on a single-family residence located at 1290 Beeblossom Trail in Lawrenceville.
The seizures of cocaine include:
On March 28, 2008, 5 kilograms of cocaine were seized during a traffic stop of a vehicle near the I-85/I-285 interchange in Gwinnett County. In order to protect the integrity of the ongoing federal investigation, the two occupants of the vehicle were prosecuted in Gwinnett County Superior Court.
On August 25, 2008, 79 kilograms of cocaine were seized during the traffic stop of a vehicle on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. The driver is also being prosecuted in Gwinnett County Superior Court.
On June 17, 2009, 80 kilograms of cocaine were seized after a traffic stop of a vehicle on I-285, just north of I-20, in Fulton County. The driver, ROBERTO CARLOS DE LOS SANTOS, who allegedly was an Atlanta-based cell-head for one of the organizations, had allegedly just picked up the cocaine from an unidentified individual in a Kroger parking lot off of Cascade Road. After stopping for the police on I-285, SANTOS fled into the woods and was ultimately apprehended in Tulsa, Oklahoma, three weeks later.
On July 4, 2009, intercepted conversations over a federal wiretap allegedly revealed that ALEJANDRO ACOSTA SOBERANIS, another alleged Atlanta-based cell-head, had received approximately 103 kilograms of cocaine from a Mexico-based source of supply. Several days later, on July 7, 2009, at approximately 3:00 a.m., EDUARDO ANTONIO MORENO-ROSALES and JOSE LOMBERA-MONJE were stopped by the Georgia State Patrol on I-85 while allegedly attempting to transport a portion of the cocaine to North Carolina at SOBERANIS' direction. MORENO- ROSALES was operating an Infiniti vehicle and LOMBERA-MONJE was following MORENO-ROSALES in a Nissan Altima. A search of the Infiniti revealed 21 kilograms of cocaine concealed in hidden compartments within the vehicle. A few hours later, agents executed a federal search warrant on a single-family residence located at 2971 Hollow Mill Lane in Buford, which uncovered 77 kilograms of cocaine in the trunk of a vehicle parked in the attached garage. Both MORENO-ROSALES and LOMBERA-MONJE were observed departing this residence prior to their arrests. SOBERANIS was arrested at his home pursuant to a federal warrant on the same evening.
On August 4, 2009, agents followed OLIVER MACIEL-MACEDO, an alleged Atlanta-based cell head for the other organization, to a bus that was parked behind a La Quinta Inn on Paces Ferry Road near I-285. At that time, agents observed MACIEL-MACEDO and OSMIN ZUMAYA-AZUARA transfer multiple kilograms of suspected cocaine from the bus to MACIEL-MACEDO's vehicle. In addition, MACIEL-MACEDO and ZUMAYA-AZUARA were observed transferring bags of suspected drug proceeds from MACIEL-MACEDO's vehicle to the bus. Agents followed MACIEL-MACEDO to a single-family residence located at 1290 Beeblossom Trail in Lawrenceville, and thereafter to another single family residence located at 1515 Northridge Road in Atlanta. MACIEL-MACEDO, and his passenger, JOSE LUIS MORALES-SAMANO, were arrested as they attempted to depart the Northridge residence. A few hours later, agents executed federal search warrants on both of the above residences, locating 130 kilograms cocaine in the Beeblossum home and 20 kilograms of cocaine at the Northridge residence. ALEJANDRO SANCHEZ-MORALES was arrested inside the Northridge residence. Shortly after executing these search warrants, agents executed a federal search warrant on the bus, where they found a concealed stash of $5,241,180 in cash.
The narcotics charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $4,000,000. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the DEA, with valuable assistance by the Georgia State Patrol, Lawrenceville Police Department, the Henry County Sheriff's Department, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI).
Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Herskowitz and Jeffrey Viscomi are prosecuting the case.
DEA AFD SAC Benson encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.