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4 defendants in Georgia sentenced for operating decade-long cocaine trafficking network

2 of the defendants were in the US illegally.

Roberto Garza-Mendez, Shadarrian Grimes, Euklides Gonzalez-Hernandez, and Johnathan Pena have been sentenced for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.  Garza-Mendez and Grimes confessed to having trafficked 200 kilograms of cocaine together during a ten-year span.

“Thanks to the diligent efforts of our law enforcement partners, these defendants’ days of distributing cocaine in the Atlanta community have ended,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.  “Also, by seizing these defendants’ drug-related assets, we hope to send a clear message that drug traffickers will not be permitted to profit from the poison they distribute.”

“The sentencings for these criminals slams the door on a major conspiracy to peddle poison (cocaine) in our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division Robert J. Murphy. “DEA, its multi-level law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, are committed to tracking down and bringing to justice those who pollute our neighborhoods with illegal drugs.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: Following a multi-month federal investigation, DEA agents learned the date and time that Garza-Mendez intended to sell several kilograms of cocaine to Grimes.  DEA agents and Georgia State Patrol Officers followed Garza-Mendez from his home, stopped his car, and seized the cocaine, as well as a loaded firearm.

Agents then executed a search warrant at Garza-Mendez’s home and seized additional kilograms of cocaine, $18,000 in cash, and a loaded rifle.   They also executed a search warrant at Grimes’ home and seized $36,000 in cash that Grimes intended to use to purchase the cocaine from Garza-Mendez.  Drug trafficking paraphernalia and a loaded pistol were also present in Grimes’ home.

Garza-Mendez – an illegal alien twice removed from the United States – and Grimes confessed that they had trafficked 200 kilograms of cocaine with each other for more than a decade.  Grimes further confessed that he purchased his Suwanee, Georgia, home and other assets, such as diamond watches and a luxury vehicle, with proceeds from the sale of cocaine he obtained from Garza-Mendez.

The DEA investigation also uncovered that Gonzalez-Hernandez and Pena were more recent additions to the Garza-Mendez/Grimes network.  Shortly after the arrests of Garza-Mendez and Grimes, agents executed a search warrant at the Conyers, Georgia, residence of Gonzalez-Hernandez, an illegal alien, who agents identified as the operator of a cocaine stash house.  Agents seized approximately seven kilograms of cocaine hidden in an air compressor tank in Gonzalez-Hernandez’s apartment.  Agents also learned that Pena had been a courier for Garza-Mendez, transporting cocaine and money among the defendants.  He was arrested without incident outside his Stone Mountain, Georgia, residence.

The defendants were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr., as follows:

  • Roberto Garza-Mendez, 34, of Norcross, Georgia, was sentenced to sixteen years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release.
  • Shadarrian Grimes, 49, of Suwanee, Georgia, was sentenced to twelve years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release.
  • Euklides Gonzalez-Hernandez, 41, of Conyers, Georgia, was sentenced to five years, three months in prison.
  • Johnathan Pena, 27, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, was sentenced to two years, four months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release.

All four defendants previously pleaded guilty.  As part of their sentences, the Court ordered the defendants’ illegally-acquired assets to be forfeited to the United States.  Garza-Mendez and Gonzalez-Hernandez will be deported to Mexico following their terms of imprisonment.

The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Trevor C. Wilmot prosecuted the case.

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