Cobb & Cherokee Counties, GA (October 13, 2020) – After a joint investigation with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Atlanta, five people have been arrested on trafficking methamphetamine charges.

The following subjects were arrested on October 9, 2020:

  1. Melissa Picardi, age 37, of Atlanta, Georgia charged with trafficking methamphetamine (Cobb County Jail).
  2. Antonio Jamar Laster, age 24, of Nashville, Tennessee charged with trafficking methamphetamine (Cherokee County Jail).
  3. Bryan Hernandez, age 23, of Atlanta, Georgia charged with trafficking methamphetamine (Cherokee County Jail).
  4. Miguel Angel Rayon Gonzalez, age 20, of Atlanta, Georgia charged with trafficking methamphetamine (Cherokee County Jail).
  5. Jesus Cruz-Aguirre, age 19, of Atlanta, Georgia charged with trafficking methamphetamine (Cherokee County Jail).

Earlier this year, GBI Gang Task Force Agents and HSI Atlanta Agents initiated an investigation of the criminal street gangs Gangster Disciples and Ghostface Gangsters.  Specifically, agents targeted the gangs’ weapons and drug trafficking relationship with local associates of Mexican cartel traffickers.  

On the evening of October 9, 2020, GBI Gang Task Force and HSI Atlanta agents executed search warrants in Cobb and Cherokee Counties.  Agents were assisted by the Cherokee County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad (CMANS), Cobb County Police Department, Woodstock Police Department, and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.  Agents executed a warrant at 879 Highland Terrace Drive NE, Marietta, GA and seized over 100 kilograms of suspected crystal methamphetamine, a loaded AR-15 rifle, and one handgun. Simultaneous searches took place in Cherokee County resulting in the seizure of approximately 3 kilograms of suspected methamphetamine.   

“Months of investigation led to a large amount of dangerous drugs and weapons taken off the street,” said Special Agent in Charge Ken Howard.  “The GBI Gang Task Force works collaboratively with federal, state, and local law enforcement to identify and eliminate gang activity and make communities safer.”

“HSI is proud to be a founding partner of the GBI Gang Task Force which is a key pillar of the Governor’s Anti-Gang strategy,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama.  “Through our unique partnership we have been able to demonstrate that local gangs are working with Mexican cartel members and even MS-13 to bring their drugs and violence to the streets of Georgia.”

This joint investigation remains active and ongoing.  Additional charges are anticipated. 

The GBI Gang Task Force is comprised of the following agencies: Atlanta Police Department, the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta, and the Georgia National Guard.


Special Agent in Charge Ken Howard