Million Dollar Drug Seizure

Date: Wed, Mar 25th, 2009 8:00:00 am

From Times Georgian

The West Metro Regional Drug Enforcement Office (WMRDEO) arrested a Carrollton man and two truck drivers from San Antonio, Texas, for trafficking in marijuana after the distribution was uncovered last Thursday following a nine-month investigation into illegal drug sales.

Task Force Agent Reagen Clayton said George Marcus Hart, 29, of Carrollton, and tractor trailer drivers Vernon Ira Brooks, 39, and Willie A. Turner, 61, both from San Antonio, were arrested within hours of each other after agents searched a house in the Riverbend subdivision off of Columbia Drive around 4 p.m. on March 19. Inside the Carrollton home, 34 pounds of packaged marijuana was found along with more than $6,000 in cash, which agents believe had been dropped off by the San Antonio team earlier, Clayton said.

"We believe there had been illegal drug sales out of that home for several months," he said. "During the search of the Carrollton house, we gained intelligence that led us to the location of the tractor trailer."

Special Agent in Charge Chris Tolbert said that within three hours agents had tracked the privately owned tractor trailer to a public parking lot off of Fulton Industrial Boulevard in Fulton County. Agents, with the assistance of the Georgia State Patrol, were able to stop the tractor trailer as it tried to leave the parking lot with Brooks and Turner inside the cab, according to Tolbert.

Inside the tractor trailer was 740 pounds of marijuana, which was the only cargo in the vehicle, packaged and wrapped in 45 plastic parcels and placed in seven boxes and four trash bags, ccording to authorities.

Clayton said agents believe the trucker team was operating as a "rolling distribution center" and was set to make more stops as it traveled east from Texas dropping off parcels of marijuana at various locations. Combined, agents recovered nearly $1 million in marijuana before it could be sold on the street, Tolbert said. Forfeiture by agents is pending on the tractor trailer pending the arrests.

Hart remained at the Carroll County jail without a bond, and Brooks and Turner are in custody at the Fulton County jail without a bond, according to authorities.

"This is the whole idea behind when we went from the West Georgia Drug Task Force to the WMRDEO in 22 counties to follow dope to its source," Tolbert said.  "In the past it would have stopped here if it was not in the three counties served, but now we follow the investigation" even into other states if necessary. In the old days we could keep out the local guys selling drugs, but the distributor could keep on going on. Now with the distributor gone that takes the supplier not
only out of Carroll County but other areas, too." The WMRDEO is a cooperative effort between the GBI, Carroll County Sheriff's Office, Heard County Sheriff's Office, Carrollton Police Department, Meriwether County Sheriff's Office, Villa Rica Police Department and Atlanta Police Department.

Clayton said the investigative agency carefully reviews calls and tips regarding illegal drug activity from the community and often uses that information in its investigations.

"The information someone has may be what we're waiting on in an investigation," he said. "The more reports we receive, the more we are able to utilize that information." Anyone with any information can contact the WMRDEO in Carrollton at 1-800-249-7331 or online at Tips can be made anonymously to the agency.

Artical wriiten by Amanda Kramer