Nov. 30, 2010— -- Police raiding a home outside Atlanta said they found a half ton of methamphetamine, worth more than $44 million, a bust believed to be one of the largest in U.S. history.
Gwinnett County police and agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency raided the Norcross, Ga., home early Tuesday morning, confiscating large barrels of toxic chemicals used to produce the highly addictive drug, police said.
"At this time, investigators confiscated a combined total of 983 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $44,641,000," the Gwinnett County Police Department said in a statement.
Investigators wearing white hazardous-material suits and gas masks confiscated 150 pounds of finished solid crystal meth, ready to hit the street, and 200 gallons of liquid meth oil, ready to be cooked into almost 1,000 pounds of street-ready meth, police said.
Cops arrested Jose Galvez-Vela, 33, of Weslaco, Texas, and charged him with drug trafficking, but said they believe there is a larger group behind the drug lab.
"There is suspicion of drug cartel involvement," Gwinnett County police Cpl. Jake Smith told ABCNews.com.
Cops said no one appeared to be living in the house at the time of the raid, but they "are following up on several leads as to who is responsible for the production of meth from this home."
Smith said Gwinnett County, just outside Atlanta, has become an important way-station for drug smugglers working the route "between Florida and Texas" and for those moving drugs North.
"We, unfortunately, see quite a bit of drug activity," he said.
Cops said Galvez-Vela did not yet have a lawyer.