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Tenn. Meth Bust Prompts Raid, Seizure in Alabama

CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) -- A drug bust that began in Tennessee and led agents to a rural Alabama community yielded hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine and marijuana.

Federal authorities said Wednesday that six people in Alabama were arrested after authorities seized 115 pounds of methamphetamine bound for Cullman County.

The meth bust, in Memphis, Tenn., led investigators to the north Alabama town of Fairview, where authorities seized 113 pounds of marijuana from a mobile home on Sept. 25.

"We've seized larger amounts of drugs in operations in Mobile and elsewhere, but this is the larger seizure ever for this particular drug," Darien Rentfro, group supervisor for the state's Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force, said of the methamphetamine recovery.

Estimates of the value of the drugs ranged from $1.4 million to $2.4 million.

Francisco Lopez, 41; Gilberto Flores Rivas, 45; Francisco Acosta, 34; Guillermo Nunez Zambrano, 28; Aurello Diaz Barragan, 25; and Joel Lopez, 34, all of Fairview, were arrested by local, state and federal officers.

The charges ranged from possession with intent to distribute, to firearms possession to interstate trafficking. All six were turned over to U.S. marshals in Birmingham.

The investigation began with a routine traffic stop in Memphis, according to Cullman police Capt. Milford Parrish.

When authorities stopped a pickup truck for a traffic violation, they discovered 115 pounds of meth that they said was bound for Cullman County for processing and distribution.

Narcotics agents posed as the delivery men and brought the drugs to Fairview, Parrish told The Cullman Times.

Parrish said the arrests and seizure of drugs were conducted without incident.

"We feel like we effectively dismantled this organization with this seizure and these arrests," Parrish said. "We were able to take a large amount of meth and marijuana off the street here in Cullman County, but at the same time it proved what we have been saying for some time now, that Cullman is a major distribution point for methamphetamine in Alabama."

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