ATLANTA — The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, Byung J. "BJay" Pak announced on Monday that a 31-year-old Mexican national has been sentenced for his role in seeking to distribute more than $1 million worth of drugs in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.

Hugo Solano-Garcia, a/k/a Gordo, of Michoacán, Mexico, was sentenced for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

“This elaborate ring profited from pumping poison in the form of high-grade methamphetamine into our community,” Pak said. “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.”

According to Pak, agents with the DEA and the Atlanta-Carolina High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program began investigating Solano-Garcia and his associates in July 2017 for trafficking meth that had been smuggled from Mexico into metro Atlanta.

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Over the course of their investigation, federal and local law enforcement agents were able to uncover a series of stash houses and meth labs in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties where the defendants would convert liquid methamphetamine into crystal meth for distribution, sometimes hiding the drugs in hollowed-out fire extinguishers and car batteries, Pak said.

The defendants barricaded some of these conversion labs and guarded them with guns.

Pak said that agents raided one conversion lab in Brookhaven on January 30, 2018, where they discovered about 130 pounds of methamphetamine in crystal and liquid form, along with 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.

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Solano-Garcia was sentenced by US District Judge Leigh Martin May to 20 years in federal prison, after which time, he will be deported.

In total, Pak said, nine other defendants were indicted in this conspiracy in addition to Solano-Garcia. Eight of them have been sentenced:

  • Gerardo Calderon-Pacheco, a/k/a Plebe, 22, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in March 2019 to 12 years in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.
  • Valentine Solano-Salas, 22, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in March 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 Confessor Camilo, a/k/a Jean Carlos Camilo, a/k/a Tigre, 38, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in March 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, 44, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in April 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, 20, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in May 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, 26, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in December 2018 to 10 years in federal prison for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. 
  • Sair Calderon-Pacheco, 20, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in February 2019 to 5 years and 10 months in federal prison for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. 
  • Joaquin Reyes-Guillen, a/k/a Aviel Cabrera-Hernandez, 35, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in December 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, Atlanta-Carolina High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, 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.

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