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Gwinnett Daily Post Podcast

Police are asking for help finding missing woman Selena Garcia

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Gwinnett County police are calling for information on what happened to a Hispanic woman who disappeared after going out with friends last fall.

Police issued a call for information on he whereabouts of Selena Garcia on Monday. Garcia's family last heard from her on October 7, her sister Zaira Garcia told the Daily Post last week. The 25-year-old told her sister she was going out with friends. Her family has not heard from her since then. Her sister said a message she sent a few days later was marked read, but never responded to.

The police department's call for information in the Selena Garcia disappearance came days after Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta issued its own call for information on her last Friday.

Garcia was reported missing from her home on Dickens Terrace in Lilburn, and police said she is known to frequent the Lilburn, Norcross and Buford areas. She is described as being 5-feet, 4-inches tall and weighing 160 pounds, with brown eyes, straight brown hair and multiple tattoos. Her tattoos include a "503" across her fingers on her right hand, "Maria" on the outside of her wrist and a dark green marijuana plant on the top of her hand. Selena Garcia had been released from the Gwinnett County Jail the day before her family last heard from her. She had been arrested last July on charges of tampering with evidence, criminal trespass for unlawful purposes, and giving a false name, address or birthdate to a law enforcement officer. Anyone who has information about Selena Garcia's whereabouts is asked to call detectives or crime stoppers.

Twenty-five people named in a 210-count indictment — for crimes ranging from racketeering to murder, gang activity and armed robbery — have been arrested by multiple law enforcement agencies, including agencies from Gwinnett County.

Gwinnett County police announced their Gang Unit worked with the Gwinnett Sheriff's Office Fugitive Unit, the Gwinnett County District Attorney's Office, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the DeKalb County Police Department, the Fulton County district Attorney's Office and the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office to make the arrests.

There were 26 suspects named in the indictment, and one of them, 22-year-old Decatur resident Khari "RX Yano" Kelley, remains at large. The arrests or the 25 other suspects named in the indictment, however, came after a year-long investigation by the Gwinnett Police Gang Unit. In August 2021, multiple shooting cases along Boggs Road in Duluth led investigators to discover ongoing violence between 'Blixtz' gang and '56 Gang. On August 29, 2021, '56 Gang' members shot and killed 18-year-old Jeremiah Pretto (an 18-year-old male from Duluth). The case evolved into a RICO investigation against the "56 Gang" in December 2021 as several members were charged with violent cases. Investigators also discovered the '56 Gang' was working with the 'Drug Rich’ gang as cases began to emerge where members of both gangs were accused or committing crimes began to emerge. The case came to a head when the top two leaders of the "56 Gang" — Lawrenceville resident Ladavion "Chicago" Smith, 22, and Clarkston resident Cameron "XG" Hamilton, 18 — along with the two highest ranking members of the "Drug Rich" gang — Stone Mountain residents Dalemonte "Drug Rich Hect" Neshawn Stilley, 24, and Zaion "Drug Rich Peso" Sharif Martinez, 27 — were indicted on RICO charges by a Gwinnett County grand jury on Jan. 25, along with 22 other members of the two gangs. In addition to the RICO charges, however, the indictment also lists several other crimes, including violations of the Gang Act, malice and felony murder, armed robbery, hijacking a motor vehicle, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, and various firearms offenses.

asmine Morales is mourning the big life events, such as high school graduation, that her little sister, Susana, will not get to have because she was murdered by a now former police officer last summer.

Meanwhile, Zaira Garcia has been in a constant state of worry about her sister, Selena, who has been missing since last October.

The cases involving Susana Morales and Selena Garcia are just some of the cases that are causing concern among Hispanic residents in Gwinnett County. Some of the cases involve people, like Garcia, who are still classified as missing, while others involve people, such as Morales or Jose Daniel Martinez, who have been the victims of murderers. And, other cases, such as the one involving Rodrigo Floriano Mayen, involve deaths that have been classified as being the result of drug overdoses.

These cases all add up to a Hispanic community that is turning to Gwinnett County police and asking what the county’s law enforcement is doing to keep them safe. The Hispanic community got a chance to address its concerns to Gwinnett police officials, including Police Chief J.D. McClure, during a community meeting at Universal Church on Thursday night. Attendees highlighted a number of issues, asking police what they are doing about concerns such as fentanyl, gangs, curfews for young people, missing persons cases and human trafficking.

For attendees their concerns are reinforced by cases such as the murder of Morales, the disappearance of Garcia, the overdose death of Mayen, and the shooting death of Martinez — which police have indicated was an apparent gang initiation killing — highlight the diversity of issues the Hispanic community is concerned about. Zaira Garcia also mentioned that some are afraid of police because they think officers will arrest them and try to have them deported. Major Jordan Griffin, who is the commander of the police department’s West Precinct, said Hispanic residents should not be worried about whether officers will check their immigration status, however, because that is not their job. Zaira also highlighted the need for more Spanish speaking personnel in the department, while Jasmine Morales voiced her frustrations in how the department handled the investigation of her sister’s disappearance prior to her death. JD McClure continued to defend his department and their handling of the Morales case.  

Brookwood senior Diana Collins and Grayson junior Gicarri Harris earned the top awards among the Gwinnett Tipoff Club’s postseason honors Monday for the best in local high school basketball.

Collins was selected as the county’s Girls Player of the Year, and Harris was the Boys Player of the Year.

In addition to Collins’ award, the Brookwood girls were named Co-Girls Team of the Year, sharing the award with the Hebron Christian girls. Both Brookwood and Hebron won state titles, and their coaches — Brookwood’s Courtney Mincy and Hebron’s Jan Azar — shared Girls Coach of the Year honors. For a list off all the players selected to the teams, please head to Gwinnett Prep Sports dot com.

Whataburger is coming to Gwinnett County next week.

The Texas-based restaurant chain announced it will open at the Exchange @ Gwinnett, which is located at 2925 Buford Drive in Buford, on March 20. The restaurant, which will the third Whataburger location in metro Atlanta, will only offer drive-thru service at first. The location will be open 24 hours a day and it is the first of two Whataburger locations that are slated to open in Gwinnett County. An additional location in Snellville is set to open at a later date.

The new restaurant is expected to generate 150 new jobs in the Buford area.

In anticipation of traffic created by the opening, Whataburger has announced is will pay Gwinnett County police to provide traffic control for the restaurant's opening. The openings of Whataburger locations in Kennesaw and Woodstock led to long lines of traffic that spilled out of the restaurants parking lots and onto adjacent streets. Whataburger announced it will add online ordering and pick-up, as well as dine-in options, in the weeks to come as those services become ready to roll out

The Georgia Senate passed legislation Monday that will require Georgia public schools to conduct active-shooter drills by Oct. 1 of each year.  

Governor Brian Kemp’s “Safe Schools Act” also creates a school-safety and anti-gang certification for teachers and other school employees who complete a school safety and gang-deterrence training program.  Though the bill ultimately passed nearly unanimously, it drew criticism from Democrats. Senator Elena Parent, a Democrat from Atlanta lamented that the bill highlights the failure to pass meaningful gun control laws. Parent, who ultimately voted for the bill, noted that several Democratic-sponsored gun control bills have not received committee hearings during this year’s legislative session.  The bill’s focus on gang-violence prevention also drew concerns. Grayson Democratic Senator Nikki Merritt voiced concerns that the identification focused training could lead to racial profiling. The bill now moves to the governor’s desk for his signature. 

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