ATLANTA - A federal jury has convicted Antonio Jamar Laster of conspiring and attempting to traffic methamphetamine sourced from a cartel-connected stash house hidden in plain sight in the north Atlanta suburbs.
“Methamphetamine abuse ravages our society by destroying lives and fueling violence,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “We are grateful to our federal and state law enforcement partners who strive to eliminate this scourge by targeting the transnational trafficking organizations that profit from poisoning our community.”
“Stopping traffickers like Laster, who flood our streets with their poison, not only prevents the flow of dangerous drugs into our communities, it also prevents the crime and violence associated with drug activity,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama.
“Months of investigation led to a large amount of dangerous drugs taken off the street. The GBI works collaboratively with federal, state, and local law enforcement to identify and eliminate gang activity and make communities safer,” said Vic Reynolds, Director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
According to U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges and other information presented in court: On October 9, 2020, Antonio Jamar Laster drove to a shopping center in Woodstock, Georgia to purchase three kilograms of methamphetamine from couriers working at the behest of the notoriously violent Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (“CJNG”) Mexican drug cartel. The couriers, after replenishing their drug supply from a single-family home in Marietta that was being utilized as a drug distribution hub and storage location, met Laster. Laster had concealed $21,100 in cash inside a Wendy’s fast-food bag to purchase the narcotics.
Agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) were actively monitoring the Marietta stash house and awaiting the issuance of a search warrant when they saw the couriers depart for the shopping center to meet Laster. Some agents followed the couriers while others stayed behind to search the home.
At the shopping center, agents interdicted the methamphetamine and arrested Laster, the two couriers, and a third cartel associate before any drugs or money exchanged hands. A criminal history check revealed that Laster was a member of the Gangster Disciples who served a prison term in Tennessee for aggravated robbery. At the stash house, agents recovered more than 100 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and several pounds of liquid methamphetamine.
The three men arrested with Laster pleaded guilty on March 9, 2021 to conspiring to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Laster elected to proceed to trial. On December 16, 2021, a jury found Laster guilty of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute and attempted possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.
Sentencing for Antonio Jamar Laster, 31, of Nashville, Tennessee, is scheduled for March 16, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Steven D. Grimberg.
This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Theodore S. Hertzberg and Noah R. Schechtman are prosecuting the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site: www.justthinktwice.gov.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.