Huge N. Georgia Methamphetamine Bust Leads to Lab in Suches, GA

News

Blairsville, GA – On Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, a traffic stop in Lumpkin County, GA resulted in the confiscation of 15 kilograms (kilos) of methamphetamine (meth). The bust was a joint effort by the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office, the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office and the FBI’s North Georgia Major Offender Squad. As a result of the ensuing investigation by Lumpkin County authorities and FBI Agents, a few grams of cocaine and $166,000 dollars in cash were found at 990 Flanders Road in Dahlonega, GA, the residence of Valentine Duarte-Vejar. Following subsequent leads, agents were lead to 843 Cooper Creek Road in Suches, GA, where a conversion lab was uncovered (a conversion lab is used to convert liquid methamphetamine to crystal form).

Agents discovered a handgun and 15 kilos of crystal methamphetamine at the lab, along with approximately 300 pounds of environmental waste, mostly containing methamphetamine oil. Agents estimated that the lab was capable of producing 25-50 kilos of crystal meth at a time. (a kilogram (kilo) weighs about 2.2 pounds).

The 30 kilos of crystal meth (15 kilos confiscated during the traffic stop and 15 kilos found at the conversion lab) have a street value of about $3,234,000.

The Union County Sheriff’s Office, EMS and union County Fire Department assisted with safely processing the conversion lab.

Angel Luis Rivera-Santiago, 42, of Norcross, Victor Rafael Aponte, 30, of Dahlonega and Valentine Duarte-Vajar, 25, of Dahlonega were charged with trafficking methamphetamine. Eleoncio Perez-Pineda, 29, of Dahlonega and Jose Mario Duarte-Vajar, 25, of Dahlonega were later arrested and charged with conspiracy to manufactory Methamphetamine. All five men were transported to Lumpkin County Detention Center. Additional charges are pending in Union County.

The immigration status of these men is still pending. The investigation continues.

GBI Press Release

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at www.FetchYourNews.com

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UPDATE: South Union County, Suches Clobbered by TS Irma

News, Update

Blairsville, GA – Storms last night, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, clobbered the southern part of Union County, especially around Suches, with high winds and lots of rain. Lt. Bren Long of the Union County Fire Department (UCFD) said the north and east parts of Union County were largely spared the wrath of TS Irma last night and this morning; but the south and west parts of the county didn’t fare so well. Long said UCFD was forming chain saw crews to help BRMEMC and the Union County Road Department clear roadways and power line right-of-ways of downed trees and brush so power can be restored to residents in the area.

A Windstream technician confirmed that they were having a lot of storm related issues in the southern part of Union County and in Suches, as well as a downed power line in Blairsville.

Featured photo, additional photos credit: Union County Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at www.FetchYourNews.com.

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Blairsville City Council: Harper Reveals More of Blairsville Facelift; Eclipse Event, Heritage Festival Big Success

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Darren Harper

Blairsville, GA – The Blairsville City Council convened for their September Meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017 at 6 p.m. at Blairsville City Hall. Mayor Jim Conley, Council Members Rhonda Mahan, Betty Easter, Tony Dyer and Buddy Moore were present. City Clerk Kaye McCann and City Attorney David Barrett were also present.

Darren Harper, Downtown Development Authority Program Manager, said the Eclipse Event went very well; that the Square was ‘packed’. He said the Merchants Meeting on August 31st was attended by about 40 people, lasted for 2 hours, went very well and that the Blairsville merchants are pleased overall with the way things are going. The main topics of discussion, he said, were parking, sidewalks and crosswalks. Harper said there have been a lot of inquiries about retail space recently. The Heritage Festival, he said, over the Labor Day Weekend was a huge success. All the merchants did well, he said. Hotel/motel tax revenue has consistently increased and about one merchant per month has opened a business in Downtown Blairsville over the last four years, he said. Harper updated the Council on the Haralson property; that is, the planned construction of a new building on Pat Haralson Drive across from the Foodland grocery store between Young Harris Street and the Square. Harper displayed artist renditions of the new building. He said the project has progressed to the point where the design is set; now the construction costs need to be reviewed and approved by the owner, Steve Cochran. Harper also updated the Council on the remodeling of the building on Blue Ridge Street across the parking lot from Copeland’s Restaurant and the planned buildings at that site (see FYN Aug. 7, 2017 article). Harper said the new buildings all together will not only add ambiance to Downtown Blairsville, they will also add about 14,000 square feet of much needed retail space and about 8,000 square feet of residential space. The apartments are planned to be about 600-800 square feet in size.

John Hamler

John Hamler, Manager of the Blairsville Municipal Airport, reported that the Grand Opening of the new W.C. Nelson Airport Terminal building hosted about 150 people and was great fun. He said the day before the Eclipse Event 3,500 gallons of aviation fuel was sold, and the day of the Eclipse 55 planes came into the airport and 5,500 gallons of fuel was sold. He said about 250 people were there for the Eclipse Event. Hamler said airport operations have moved completely over to the new building now. There are a few quirks to work out, but, he said, nothing major. He said Chris Dyer, the Assistant Airport Manager, will be leaving as of Sept. 15 in pursuit of furthering his aviation career and that a replacement was needed. He said they are staying very busy with five jets in over the weekend and three came in that day. The new Jet-A fuel truck, he said, is a real boon for the airport; that it’s been in use every day. Hamler said the Blairsville airport currently averages about 45,000 takeoffs and landings a year.

Mayor Conley brought up the need for ground transport for employees to cross the runway to pump aviation fuel for small planes (avgas), since the new terminal is on the opposite side of the field from the old one. Mayor Conley said he had consulted with Larry Garrett about acquiring a golf cart with a gas engine and would have more on that issue at the next meeting. Hamler mentioned that they would also need another credit card machine, as well, to reduce the number of runway crossings for avgas transactions.

Mayor Jim Conley

Mayor Conley called for a public hearing on the Amended Alcohol Ordinance to which no one spoke. He then asked for a first reading of the Alcohol Ordinance 2017-03 amended to include Sections 10-76(a), 10-76(b) and 10-79(n) regulating signage advertising or promoting alcohol sales. The Sections restrict the advertising and promotion of alcohol in the City of Blairsville. The Sections have not been completely vetted and approved by City Attorney Barrett. Barrett pointed out to the Council some vagueness in some of the terms of the Sections after some discussion. McCann said she would obtain a copy of the Union County Alcohol Ordinance so the Council and Barrett can ensure that they are compatible. Copies of the proposed Sections can be reviewed at City Hall.

David Barrett

Mayor Conley presented the Georgia Department of Transportation FY 2018 Contract – Avigation Easement and Land Acquisition for RPZ Obstruction Removal at Runway 8 and 26; DBE Plan Update (18-20); RPZ Obstruction Removal for Runway 8 and 26. He said the contract won’t go into effect until March of 2018, but GDOT needs a commitment from the City for its portion of the cost: $41,833. The Council unanimously approved the contract.

Kaye McCann

McCann explained to the Council the issues involved in the 2018 Health Insurance Renewal for City employees. She said she received notice of an increase of 13 per cent from Blue Cross/Blue Shield though GMA in August. She said they currently have a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) type group insurance plan. She said after she investigated other group plans, that a Point of Service (POS) insurance plan would lower their premiums and would save the City $10,000 per year without any change in deductibles or quality of service. The Council voted unanimously to change over to a POS plan.

In other Department Head Reports, Blairsville Police Officer Michael ‘Bear’ Baxter reported that there were 120 calls responded to in August. He said the Eclipse Event went very smoothly and wasn’t nearly as bad as had been feared. He said the new police vehicle would be delivered this month. Baxter said one thing of note was the first drug arrest in Blairsville that involved the seizure of heroine mixed with Fentanyl, a drug that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.

Michael ‘Bear’ Baxter

Ottis Franklin, Superintendent of the Water and Sewer Plant reported that the Kimsey Street paving project had been completed; a lot of meters had been set due to the increase in construction this year; and reported no problems.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent Jody Cook reported that #1 Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) tank was up and running and the #2 SBR tank was down, but should be back in service in the near future. He said there will be a student tour of the plant with 5th through 8th graders coming up. Cook had no other problems to report.

Mayor Conley addressed the Council regarding a suggestion that the Blairsville Municipal Airport, officially named Robert Colwell Field, be changed officially to another name: Jack Tarpley Field or Charles Hill Field. No member of the Council was in favor of pursuing that name change and the matter was dropped.

The Council approved an Occupational Tax Certificate Application for Harry Norman Realtors, 63 Murphy Highway, David Allsteadt, Corporate Officer.

The Council approved a Sign Application for Ingles Markets, 207B Highway 515, Chad Priest, Applicant.

Having no further business to conduct, the Council adjourned.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at www.FetchYourNews.com

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Drive-by for Your Flu Shot in North Georgia

Health

Former Union County Phys Ed Teacher arrested for child molestation

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Blairsville, GA – Forty year old Shawnetta D. Reece, former Union County Middle School (UCMS) Physical Education Teacher, has been arrested for ‘child molestation and sexual abuse by persons with supervisory or disciplinary authority’.

Shawnetta D. Reece, former UCMS phys ed teacher

The Union County Sheriff’s Office (UCSO) recently received a tip that a Union County teacher was sexually involved with a student in 2013. UCSO requested that Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) assist with an investigation. GBI was able to determine that Reece, a physical education teacher at UCMS at the time, was sexually involved with a 15 year old student in 2013. The student was moving from the eighth grade to the ninth grade at the time.

Upon completion of the GBI investigation, the case will be turned over to Jeff Langley, the Enotah Judicial Circuit District Attorney, for prosecution.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at www.fetchyournews.com

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GBI Crime Lab Identifies Central Georgia Counterfeit Pills

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Decatur, GA – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Lab has identified counterfeit pills related to the reported overdoses in the Central Georgia area.

Analysis has confirmed that the pills contain a mixture of two synthetic opioids, cyclopropyl fentanyl and U-47700.  Cyclopropyl fentanyl is a fentanyl analogue that is chemically similar to fentanyl.  It is unknown how the human body will react to this drug since it is not intended for human or veterinary use.  Cyclopropyl fentanyl had not previously been seen in Georgia.

U-47700 is a synthetic opioid 7.5 times stronger than morphine.

Both of these drugs are HIGHLY DANGEROUS and should not be handled.  They can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and are extremely toxic in even the smallest quantities.

Legislation was introduced this year to outlaw both cyclopropyl fentanyl and U-47700 in Georgia.  The law banning the substances went into effect after passage by the Georgia General Assembly and the Governor’s signature on April 17, 2017.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Poison Center, hospitals, local, state, and federal partners are working jointly on this investigation.

Jeff Langley, Enotah Circuit DA hosts lunch this weekend

News

Local District Attorney Jeff Langley is hosting a lunch event on Sunday May 21st at G and G Café on Highway 515. The District Attorney will be available from 12-2pm to discuss issues and answer questions from those attending. Also attending will be State Senator Hunter Hill. Senator Hill is a candidate for Governor in 2018. Italian food, salads and deserts will be served. The luncheon supports Jeff Langley’s re-election as District Attorney. For More Info contact 706-455-9195.

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GBI Issues Synthetic Opioids Alert

News

 

 

Decatur, GA – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is issuing a public safety alert

regarding illegal synthetic opioids. In the last four months, 17 deaths have been caused by the

drugs U-47700 and/or furanyl fentanyl, equal to the number for all of 2016. U-47700 and

furanyl fentanyl are both Schedule I drugs and used in the same manner as heroin. Schedule I

drugs have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical treatment use in the

United States. The drugs are distributed in either powder or tablet form.

The GBI Crime Lab has received approximately 50 cases containing U-47700 and furanyl

fentanyl this year. Many of the cases contained three or four different additional opiates.

Because furanyl fentanyl and U-47700 are lethal at very low doses, law enforcement and the

public should use caution when handling these drugs. They can be inhaled or absorbed through

the skin and are extremely toxic in the smallest quantities.

U-47700 or furanyl fentanyl may cause symptoms such as shallow breathing, pinpoint pupils,

nausea or vomiting, dizziness, lethargy, cold or clammy skin, loss of consciousness, and/or heart

failure. Should someone come in contact with the drugs and an overdose is suspected,

administer Naloxone immediately and call 911. Multiple doses of Naloxone may be required.

One Metro-Atlanta law enforcement agency recently seized approximately 8 kilograms of the

furanyl fentanyl GBI Crime Lab and U-47700 mixture. A field test of the drugs was initially negative before

GBI Crime Lab testing identified the substance. The danger and complexity of the opioids led to

the GBI issuing a statewide officer safety alert. Law enforcement has been warned to use

extreme caution and utilize personal protective equipment when handling or packaging any

synthetic opioid.

Due to the diligence of the Georgia General Assembly, legislation was introduced this year to

ban both U-47700 and furanyl fentanyl. The Governor signed this law and it went into effect on

4/17/2017 upon his signature.

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