Agents find 2,000 pounds of meth hidden in tour bus, truck parked in metro Atlanta

ATLANTA — A tour bus parked in Rockdale County usually doesn’t draw a lot of attention, but on a spring day in March the bus, and a nearby tractor trailer, drew enough suspicion from law enforcement officers that they called in the local fire department.

The ceiling of that Mexican tour bus didn’t look quite right, so firefighters pulled out a tool similar to the Jaws of Life and cut into the roof of the bus -- revealing an enormous haul of methamphetamine.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne obtained the exclusive video of agents and firefighters working to cut through the roof of the bus and the enormous stash found inside. Once the Drug Enforcement Agency totaled it up, they found 2,000 pounds of meth.

Special agent-in-charge Robert Murphy says the amount of drugs found in the bus and the nearby truck underscore Atlanta’s role as a hub for drugs run by Mexican cartels. The majority of meth was tucked into the tractor trailer, about 865 kilograms of the 900 kilogram total, but all of its was hidden.

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“Both these tags were from Guadalajara, the tourist bus and the tractor trailer. That’s how comfortable and brazen they are,” Murphy said.

The bust is part of Operation Crystal Shield, a months long program run by the DEA, FBI, and Homeland Security in nine U.S. cities that serve as hubs for the cartels. The Georgia State Patrol helped with the metro Atlanta investigation.

Murphy says several arrests have been made in the case and the drugs were destined to be shipped up and down the east coast, but much of it would stay in metro Atlanta.

Another video provided to Winne from the DEA shows a mammoth meth conversion lab in metro Atlanta discovered in February. The lab is used to convert smuggled liquid into crystallized meth. Enough drugs to keep 2 million people high for 12 hours, agents said.

Agents say Operation Crystal has yielded 530 arrests, 6,000 pounds meth, $9 million in currency and 116 firearms in just Georgia and the Carolinas.