The Troup department was awarded $175,730.76 for its role in the operation, although that’s small compared to what other agencies got: more than $2 million to the Lawrenceville Police Department; $1.22 million each to the Henry County Sheriff’s Department and GBI; and more than $1 million to the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
The largest cash seizure during the operation was in Troup County on Dec. 7, 2008, when $8,824,950 was found in a tractor-trailer after a traffic stop on Interstate 85.
“Whenever a successful traffic stop is executed, it is a win for the entire law enforcement community,” Sheriff Donny Turner said. “By stopping the movement of illegal narcotics, these agencies are saving lives.”
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which led the investigation, distributed the forfeited money Thursday in Atlanta. It can be used for capital needs such as vehicles and equipment, but not salaries.
“It took many different federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies to bring down one of the largest drug and money cases in recent history,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillan Yates, whose office coordinated the money transfer. “… Now some of that drug money is going back to the departments whose officers risk their lives every day fighting the cartels who use Georgia as a transportation hub and a backdrop for their violence.”
The DEA said it found two Mexico-based trafficking cells in the Atlanta area, while other cells operated in Laredo, Texas; McAllen, Texas; San Antonio; Greensboro, N.C.,; Raleigh, N.C.; Newark, N.J.; and Chicago. Atlanta was the primary distribution point.
The traffickers received cocaine in tractor-trailers from Mexico, then shipped millions of dollars back to Mexico in the tractor-trailers and other vehicles, according to the DEA.