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Drug raid dismantles E. Coast cell, DEA says

WASHINGTON -- Federal agents arrested 28 suspects and seized more than 1,300 pounds of cocaine during an overnight raid in Atlanta that dismantled one of the largest drug trafficking cells on the East Coast, the Drug Enforcement Administration said yesterday.

The raid also netted 40 pounds of methamphetamines and $8 million in cash. It was the second major seizure in the agency's four-month-old ''Money Trail" initiative to monitor drug money that passes between the United States and Mexico; the first came through arrests made in Denver and Detroit.

Among those arrested late Wednesday and early yesterday was the suspected leader of the Atlanta organization, known to law enforcement officials only as Gotti. DEA accuses him of orchestrating shipments from major East Coast cities to Atlanta, then back to Mexico.

Nearly $5 million in cocaine was thought to have changed hands each week, usually in small containers to avoid detection. In at least one case, DEA said, the drugs were hidden in a tractor trailer carrying pork and livestock portions.

The suspects were arrested from throughout the Atlanta area, but the agency did not immediately disclose where. Nineteen of them were illegal Mexican immigrants, DEA said. Twenty-two suspected members of the cell were indicted Tuesday, although officials do not know most of their actual names. Many are listed only with aliases, such as Cauliflower, Gordo, Yoli, Sope, and El Sobrino.

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