From Staff Reports
For months, a meth ring with members in the Atlanta area had been sending its gurus to the Dalton area to sell drugs, officials said.
Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Ricky Swiney said that halted late last week when officers got wind of what was happening and nabbed six people they’ve charged with trafficking in meth, possession of meth and possession of meth with intent to distribute. They confiscated about five pounds of meth which officials estimated has a street value of $218,000.
Those charged were Lucio Contreras, 53, of Lawrenceville; Michael P. Finnegan, 33, of Fairmount; Kerri D. Nichols, 28, of Chatsworth; Iban Gonzalez-Gutierrez, 33, of McDonough; Lauren N. Williams, 34, of Calhoun; and Alejandro Zamora-Gonzalez, 25, of Sandy Springs. Nichols also faces several traffic violations, and Zamora-Gonzalez is also charged with obstruction of an officer. All except Williams, whom authorities said was released on her own recognizance, remained in the Whitfield County jail Saturday.
A news release from the sheriff’s office says the office’s narcotics unit learned on Thursday two people were planning to distribute meth in the south end of the county. A deputy spotted the suspects’ GMC Envoy on U.S. Highway 41 at Carbondale Road and tried to stop it, the release states, but Nichols, who was driving, refused to stop. The deputy chased the vehicle into Gordon County while watching someone inside throw out packages of what they later confirmed was meth.
Swiney said the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office and Calhoun Police Department assisted. Officers finally stopped the Envoy in Gordon County close to the sheriff’s office there and seized $11,000 cash from Nichols and passenger Finnegan.
“It’s a bad idea to run from police and go by the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office at shift change,” Swiney said. “There were numerous patrol cars fixing to go out on patrol and they (were able to stop the Envoy).”
According to the release, “Based on the information developed as a result of this investigation, officers were able to determine quantities of methamphetamine were being distributed in our area by some individuals from the Atlanta area. A covert operation was initiated when it was determined these dealers were supposed to make a delivery the next day.”
Officials said the dealers met with someone in a parking lot at the trade center around 6 p.m. Friday to sell a large amount of meth, but officers quickly moved in and arrested them. Zamora-Gonzalez was charged with obstruction after he tried to run away, the release states. Officers recovered even more meth which was hidden in a Frosted Flakes cereal box that had been opened and resealed and placed in a sack with other groceries.
Officials seized that and at little more than $5,000. They also seized three vehicles during the two-day operation.