News Release
November 08, 2010
Contact: Chuvalo J. Truesdell
Number: 404-893-7124

Forty-Five Defendants Arrested as part of Massive Assault
against La Familia Michoacana Operatives

NOV 08 -- ATLANTA – Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson, DEA Atlanta Field Division Special Agent in Charge Rodney G. Benson, and Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Director Jack Killorin announce the arrests of 45 defendants. Most of these defendants were indicted by a Clayton County Grand Jury a short time ago. During the duration of this investigation, the approximate amounts of items were seized as follows: 46 pounds of methamphetamine plus a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory (total amount to be determined), 43 kilograms of cocaine, 4,120 pounds of marijuana, 20 firearms, and $2,349,000 of U.S. Currency. The defendants were arrested as part of Operation Choke Hold which targeted the distribution network of a major Mexican drug trafficking organization known as La Familia.

In May 2009, the Atlanta HIDTA Task Force initiated an investigation targeting elements of the La Familia Cartel based in Atlanta, Georgia. This organization was responsible for the importation of bulk quantities of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana into the Metro Atlanta area. The organization distributed narcotics in the Metro Atlanta area, as well as shipped significant quantities to Florida, Alabama, Indiana, Illinois, and North Carolina.

In December 2009, the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office joined the investigation team and became a driving force behind the success of this case. Forty six individuals have been charged in Clayton and other counties with offenses including violations of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act, Trafficking, Conspiracy, Money Laundering, and weapons violations.

The La Familia cartel is a violent drug trafficking cartel based in the state of Michoacan, in southwestern Mexico. La Familia controls drug manufacturing and distribution in and around Michoacan, including the importation of vast quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico into the United States. La Familia is a heavily armed cartel that has utilized violence to support its narcotics trafficking business including murders, kidnappings and assaults.

Tracy Lawson, Clayton County District Attorney commented about the operation, “Drugs are the root cause of most criminal acts including murder, armed robbery, and burglary. The united effort of local, state and federal authorities in Operation Choke Hold has resulted in the decimation of a significant drug trafficking organization operating in the Atlanta metropolitan area, the arrest of its operators and the seizure of their drugs and ill gotten gains all of which will have a positive impact on our citizens.”

Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA Atlanta Field Division (AFD) praised the teamwork of the investigators and prosecutors in the case. He stated “Today, through Operation Choke Hold, we have worked with our federal, state and local counterparts to target and dismantle a major Mexican criminal enterprise that has distributed hundreds of pounds of illegal drugs into our local communities and who have collected millions of dollars of drug proceeds.”

Jack Killorin, director of the Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) stated, “It has been widely reported that the Atlanta Metropolitan area has become a major distribution center for drug cartels based in Mexico. It should also be reported that law enforcement working collaboratively is successful in disrupting their operations. They are not so low profile that we cannot see them and bring them to account.”

This investigation was conducted through the cooperative efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DeKalb County Police Department, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, the Henry County Police Department, the Georgia State Patrol, the Spaulding County Sheriff’s Office, the Gwinnett Police Department and the Jonesboro Police Department.

DEA Atlanta’s 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, and