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Indictment alleges pipeline of meth from Mexico to Georgia aided by 'prison brokers'
Lee Darragh
Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh speaks at a press conference Friday, July 10, at the Hall County Sheriff's Office concerning an 11-month drug investigation. - photo by Nick Watson

A 166-page indictment in Hall County Superior Court alleges a pipeline of liquid methamphetamine originating in Mexico and extending into Georgia.

The indictment lists 56 defendants who were charged with violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

The arrests were originally announced in July, an 11-month investigation known as “Operation Taking Care of Business” that involved local, state and federal authorities.

Through the investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said authorities seized 50 kilograms of meth, half of a kilogram of heroin, 20 firearms, $70,000 in cash and six vehicles. The drugs seized had an estimated street value of $705,000.

The additional charges in the indictment, which do not apply to all defendants, included trafficking methamphetamine and other drug-related offenses.

Court documents claim the enterprise had its genesis between Luther Troy Summerfield, 43, of Alto, and Alejandro Ceja-Solano, 41, of Mt. Airy.

According to court documents, a pipeline of liquid meth came from Mexico into Georgia, where the drug was converted to its crystal form and sent for distribution to counties including Hall, Fulton, Gwinnett, Banks, Habersham, White, Lumpkin, Gilmer, Jackson, Barrow and Stephens.

"They conspired and cooperated to manufacture methamphetamine with product that they received in a liquid form and to sell and distribute crystal methamphetamine, heroin and other controlled substances through the use of enterprise associates throughout Georgia and to use those illegal funds to facilitate the purpose of the enterprise,” according to a Hall County grand jury indictment.

In late 2019, Ceja-Solano allegedly started receiving less of a supply of liquid methamphetamine, subsequently increasing distribution of heroin and growing his relationship with Summerfield, according to the indictment.

Also, a December 2019 Gwinnett County traffic stop led to seizure of 25 kilos of meth, according to the indictment. 

"With the seizure of this crystal methamphetamine, the enterprise had nothing to sell in order to pay for the liquid methamphetamine it had received,” according to the indictment.

The organization then allegedly started using a "prison broker” system that included a state prison inmate to facilitate drug deals, according to the indictment.

"To facilitate the distribution of controlled substances, street-level dealers often will use incarcerated contacts, known as prison brokers, to broker drug transactions with drug cartels,” according to the indictment. “By nature of their incarcerated status, the prison brokers have easier access to other inmates who are members or direct associates of drug cartels or who are members and associates of criminal street gangs who have direct contacts with the drug cartels."

The street dealers use the prison brokers to get a source of supply, and the prison brokers in turn get a kickback from the dealers for brokering the deal, according to the indictment.

"This prison broker system insulates the (source of supply), and thereby the drug cartels, from the street level dealers,” according to the indictment. “This method makes it more difficult for law enforcement to detect and identify the (source of supply) even during an active investigation of involved street-level dealers and prison brokers."

The COVID-19 crisis also affected the pricing and availability of liquid and crystal methamphetamine when the border between the U.S. and Mexico "hardened with restricted travel between the two countries,” according to the indictment.

"This, in turn, made the smuggling and procurement of illicit drugs much more difficult,” according to the indictment.

This caused the supply of crystal meth to decline and prices to soar.

Ceja-Solano’s attorney, Kenneth Sheppard, did not return a request for comment Friday, April 2.

The Hall County Public Defender’s Office said an attorney had not been assigned for Summerfield.

Both men are being held at the Hall County Jail. Ceja-Solano does not have a bond, while Summerfield has a $110,200 bond and a hold from another county, according to the Hall County Jail database.

 See original story here.