Russian mobster extradited from Ukraine and sentenced in $9+ million fraud scheme involving exotic car leasing business catering to drug traffickers and others
ATLANTA - Zury Brito-Arroyo, Bonifacio Brito-Maldonado, and Roberto Arroyo-Garcia have been sentenced to federal prison for manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine in a home where a minor child resided and within 1,000 feet of a school. The three men, all of whom had illegally entered the United States from Mexico, utilized a family home in Norcross less than 200 feet from an elementary school to operate a methamphetamine laboratory.
“These men ran a lab churning out volatile and toxic chemicals to produce concentrated methamphetamine,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “In doing so, they were exposing not only members of their own family, including children, an expectant mother, and a grandmother, to serious harm, but also innocent neighbors and school children who were completely unaware of the danger.”
“Methamphetamine production can have devasting consequences that go beyond those associated with taking the drug. One such consequence is the toxic vapor and deadly chemicals produced when it is being made. These chemicals pose extreme danger to anyone in the vicinity. The innocent children in the school next door and even the other family members in the household were placed in danger due to the defendants’ recklessness,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “This is a growing threat and HSI and its law enforcement partners are working to identify, arrest, and prosecute those involved in producing and selling this poison.”
“Those who manufacture methamphetamine, because of its toxicity and volatility, pose a grave danger to everyone,” said the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division Robert J. Murphy. “Given that this operational ‘meth’ lab was near a school, the outcome could have been devastating to the school children, staff and to the community at-large. Because of spirited law enforcement cooperation between DEA and its counterparts, these defendants will receive well-deserved time in prison.”
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges and other information presented in court: In August 2017, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents investigating a local methamphetamine distributor tracked him to a house in a residential neighborhood they believed was used as part of the drug manufacturing and distribution operation.
As agents were watching the house, Georgia State Patrol, working in conjunction with HSI, stopped defendant Zury Brito-Arroyo as he was driving away from the house. Inside his car, they found $10,000 cash wrapped in green cellophane and a 9mm pistol. Brito-Arroyo’s five-year-old child and wife were also in the car. Agents then searched the stash house and found defendants Roberto Arroyo-Garcia and Bonifacio Brito-Maldonado actively operating a methamphetamine laboratory in a shed in the backyard. Chemical fumes coming from the operation were so strong that one of the men began vomiting. Agents detained the two, but Arroyo-Garcia resisted arrest and fled. He was ultimately found hiding nearby and was arrested. Agents later searched Brito-Arroyo’s cell phone pursuant to a federal search warrant and discovered an app that monitored security cameras mounted at the house.
Agents seized over 10.7 kilograms of finished crystal methamphetamine from the shed and inside the house, some of which was over 90% pure, plus additional methamphetamine in liquid form that had not been fully processed into solid form for distribution. They also seized an additional 9mm pistol, $8,500 cash, and other methamphetamine trafficking paraphernalia including respirators, rubber gloves, and digital scales.
The DEA Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Team responded to the scene to remove the dangerous chemicals. Agents also found children’s clothes inside the house, and later confirmed that a ten-year-old child, who was related to the defendants, lived there.
With assistance from the Sandy Springs Police Department, agents also searched another residence used by Brito-Arroyo, where they discovered a plastic bin with methamphetamine residue, another 9mm pistol, an electronic money counter, and four bundles of cash totaling $41,000 wrapped in green cellophane.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Georgia State Patrol, and the Sandy Springs Police Department are investigating this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Garrett L. Bradford, Deputy Chief of the Public Integrity and Special Matters Section, and Ryan M. Christian prosecuted 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.
This prosecution was brought as a part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Co-located Strike Forces Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations against a continuum of priority targets and their affiliate illicit financial networks. These prosecutor-led co-located Strike Forces capitalize on the synergy created through the long-term relationships that can be forged by agents, analysts, and prosecutors who remain together over time, and they epitomize the model that has proven most effective in combating organized crime. The specific mission of the Atlanta Strike Force is to disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute the highest-level members of international drug cartels and transnational criminal organizations that have operations in metro Atlanta and throughout the United States.
OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and is the keystone of the Department of Justice’s drug reduction strategy. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations, and money laundering organizations that present a significant threat to the public safety, economic, or national security of the United States.
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.