CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - A major hub for the Southeast, the road and air travel going in and out of the Metro Atlanta area make it an attractive distribution center for illegal drug activity.
Georgia's cities can often get a portion of the drugs that flow through our state capital - Savannah included.
Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team says out of all the long-term, larger drug investigations they conduct, about 95 percent of them have ties to the metro Atlanta area.
On the front lines of drug enforcement in the Atlanta area, the Marietta-Cobb-Smyrna Narcotics Unit, or MCS, frequently sees new trafficking tactics and drug trends coming into the state.
"We've seen a little bit of everything, and there's no telling, literally, before the week's over what we might see this time," said Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds.
Reynolds also chairs the MCS board. He said the cases they prosecute have evolved from street-level drug transactions to now involving gang and cartel operations stemming from Mexico.
"Right now, at the top of the chain would be our heroine, fentanyl cases along with our methamphetamine cases," Reynolds said.
Reynolds says local and federal agencies are indicating that cocaine trafficking is on the rise, too.
Experts say strategies to import drugs into Georgia are getting more creative. From storing liquid meth in a variety of containers, to hiding bricks of other substances in tires...
"As many bad guys as there are, is as many ideas that some of them can come up with," Reynolds said.
Because of the ever-evolving drug distribution and trafficking techniques, drug enforcement agencies around Georgia, including Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team, keep open lines of communication with Atlanta-area units to get an idea of what could be coming into our area.
"This agency has this bit of information, this one has this bit of information. It's really just coming together and solving one big puzzle," said CNT Assistant Deputy Director Gene Harley.
CNT worked with MCS not long ago to bring down a drug-dealing operation that linked the Atlanta-area to Chatham and Effingham counties.
"And with their assistance, we identified the main house that we believed the drugs to be stored at," Harley said.
It's a partnership that can lead to not only a reduction of drugs in our area but also violent and non-violent crime associated with drug use and sales.
"Certainly that if we do what we're supposed to be doing here, along with our federal and local partners, and we make a good dent into it, you're probably going to see a decent dent in your area as well."
CNT's director presented some statistics to the Chatham County Commissioners last Friday, which included up-to-date drug seizures for the year. Powder cocaine leads the list, with more than $2.5 million worth being taken off the streets.