North Georgia law enforcement has dismantled a massive meth manufacturing operation and is now on the lookout for the woman believed connected to it all - and her two young children.
The announcement came from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation late Wednesday. Authorities believe 32-year-old Clara Catarino Mendoza is connected to multiple properties connected to an operation believed to have produced and distributed 385 gallons of methamphetamine - drugs that ended up on Georgia's streets.
"Conservatively, this equates to hundreds of kilograms of crystal methamphetamine," the GBI said in a written statement on Wednesday.
The latest angle in the case happened on Wednesday when Lumpkin County investigators, the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office (ARDEO) and the FBI executed additional search warrants at 289 Iberian Road and 126 Antique Way.
The warrants were based on the analysis of evidence seized in another huge bust on Friday involving a traffic stop also in Lumpkin County that uncovered a conversion lab.
The new search revealed yet another conversion lab at the Antique Way and parts that were consistent with the lab found on Friday. But they also uncovered something even bigger - seven empty 55-gallon drums - three of which tested positive for meth. They also found a means of protecting the operation in the form of two AR-15 rifles, a pistol grip shotgun, and a handgun.
Agents also found the Iberian Road location destroyed by fire - one authorities believe may have been arson.
"It is fair to say that the North Georgia Law Enforcement Team has dismantled a criminal organization that, at a minimum, has produced and distributed 385 gallons of methamphetamine," the GBI statement said.
So now the search turns to Mendoza who was linked to both properties. She is described as a Hispanic female who is about 5 feet 1 inch tall and about 125 pounds. Agents believe Mendoza fled with her two juvenile children and is driving a yellow 2006 H2 Hummer with the Georgia license plate PYX 5020, a 2003 gray Ford Superduty truck with the Georgia tag PKM 9409 or a white BMW 4 door sedan of an unknown model.
Investigators have already secured warrants for her arrest on charges of conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine. Anyone who sees her is asked to call the Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office at 706-864-3633, the GBI at 1-800-597-8477, or the FBI at 1-800-225-5324. Those with info can also call their local sheriff's office or police department.