Metro Atlanta kingpin sentenced to life for distributing Mexican drugs in Georgia

The Atlanta leader of a drug trafficking operation accused of pushing large amounts of cocaine from Mexico to the U.S. will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

In January, Albert "Big" Ross, 53, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

Ross was arrested on Sept. 23, 2021, at his home in Stone Mountain. During their search of the property, DEA Atlanta special agents said they found more than $300,000 in cash wrapped in tinfoil and vacuum-sealed in black trash bags in his bedroom closet. At an Atlanta bar Ross owned, agents seized more than $600,000 of what they claimed were drug proceeds.

In total, officials say they seized more than $3.1 million in cash, 73 firearms, 165 kilograms of cocaine, 1.32 kilograms of fentanyl, 11.25 kilograms of heroin, 1.39 kilograms of crack cocaine, 12.57 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, and 25.35 pounds of marijuana,

Investigation into Albert Ross's drug smuggling

For years, Atlanta officials said they tracked Ross' movements and discovered a ring he confessed to leading brought in approximately 2,000 kilograms of cocaine along with other drugs from Mexico into the U.S.

Using wiretaps, physical surveillance, vehicle trackers and informants, officials say they discovered a large network associated with Ross's organization that was being used to transport the drugs through Texas from a source in Mexico associated with the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG).

In a three-month period in 2018, investigators say Ross sent more than $2.5 million in payments and received 1,300 kilograms of cocaine from another supplier. He then stashed the drugs at the home of an elderly family member who had previously been shot while picking up drug proceeds for Ross.

Investigators say two co-defendants, identified as 44-year-old Lonnie Bennett and 30-year-old Brandon Payne, would sell cocaine out of a house on Pittman Road in College Park. Another co-defendant, identified as 43-year-old TaMichael Darden would travel to the Pittman Road stash house to buy cocaine to sell throughout the Middle District of Georgia.

Albert Ross's ties to other drug investigations

The drug seizure that led to Ross's arrest is not the only one connected to the Stone Mountain man. 

Officials say in March 2018, Ross and a business partner bought around $4 million in cocaine that was discovered by a Georgia state trooper hidden behind a false wall in a tractor-trailer truck on Interstate 20.

After the drugs were discovered, authorities say Ross asked another person to kill the man responsible for overseeing the seized drug load.

When DEA Atlanta officials grew suspicious that Ross and co-conspirators were using a private aircraft at the Peachtree DeKalb Airport to move the drugs from Georgia to California, they contacted local authorities along with the FBI to seize over $2 million in drug proceeds from his luggage in December 2018.

Life sentences on two charges

On Monday, a federal judge sentenced Ross to two life sentences in prison, the statutory maximum. There is no parole in federal prison. 

"Albert Ross deserves every day in prison that he will ultimately receive after distributing a huge amount of drugs into Middle Georgia," said FBI Atlanta’s Macon Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Robert Gibbs. "FBI Atlanta and our partners across the state will work non-stop to put drug dealers behind bars and stop them from inflicting pain on Georgia residents."

Along with the life sentences, the judge ordered Ross to serve five years of supervised release and pay a $1 million fine.