Couple Busted With 30 Pounds Of Meth In Lipton Tea Bottles

By Keri Blakinger 04/21/17

The meth allegedly came from the notorious Sinaloa cartel in Mexico.

The confiscated meth-filled bottles of Lipton green tea.
Photo courtesy of the Newnan police department

Those don’t look like tea leaves. 

Two Texans were arrested Saturday with around 30 pounds of liquid meth stashed in green tea bottles, according to police. Rafael De La Cruz and Abigail Valles are facing meth-trafficking charges after police picked up the pair in western Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.  

Cops caught up with the couple after their car—sporting Texas plates and sitting in a Walmart parking lot—was reported as suspicious. After a traffic stop, De La Cruz admitted he didn’t have a license and told officers that he and his wife had driven in from Laredo, a border city southwest of San Antonio.

Although he’d been planning to drop the 24 Spanish-labeled Lipton green tea bottles off to a buyer in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs in exchange for $5,000, De La Cruz got paranoid en route and started looking for a place to ditch the drugs in Newnan. 

De La Cruz told police he had pulled into the Walmart looking for a trash bin to dump the meth, because he was afraid he was going to be caught. He also said the drugs came from the notorious Sinaloa cartel in Mexico. 

Both De La Cruz and Valles are being held in the Coweta County Jail without bail, according to Fox affiliate WAGA-TV.

About two weeks earlier, Georgia authorities announced the end of a yearlong meth investigation dubbed “Operation Breaking Bad.” The gang task force in Gwinnett County, a little over an hour northeast of Newnan, arrested 25 people and seized 1,400 grams of meth, 60 grams of heroin and multiple guns during the course of the operation. 

The investigation ended on March 28 when the ATF simultaneously raided eight locations across the metro Atlanta area, where officials believed gang-affiliated drug dealers were selling drugs and guns. 

Days before authorities announced their bust of the "Breaking Bad" crew, police in neighboring Fulton County seized 500 pounds of meth in a house after a traffic stop led them to a meth lab. Afterward, two people were taken into custody and children were handed over to child protective services. Investigators said there were likely more people involved in the meth-making operation. 

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.