Indictments, Arrests and Search
JAN 10 --Memphis, TN - An eleven count indictment was unsealed today, charging eleven defendants with various counts related to conspiring to distribute marijuana, distributing marijuana, and money laundering, in an investigation called “Operation California Roll,” announced Lawrence J. Laurenzi, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA Atlanta Field Division (AFD), Mark Luttrell, Sheriff of Shelby County, and Larry Godwin, Director of the Memphis Police Department.
On December 11, 2008, a federal grand jury indicted Gum Chung Lum, a/k/a “Johnny,” 35, of Cordova, Tennessee, Chon Leong, a/k/a “Tony,” 37, of Cordova Tennessee, Chun Leong, a/k/a “Tommy,” 34, of Cordova, Tennessee, Wai Lai, a/k/a “Ling Liu, a/k/a “Bo,” 33, of San Gabriel, California, Feng Liu, 37, of Cordova, Tennessee, Weitao Zhu, a/k/a “Taxi Guy,” 44, of Rosemeade, California, Victoria Sanders, a/k/a “Tori,” 26, of Cordova, Tennessee, Alexander Cook, a/k/a “Alex,” 22, of Cordova, Tennessee, Dustin Khahn Vo, 31, of Memphis, Tennessee, Max Threlkeld Terhune, 24, of Memphis, Tennessee, and Angela Sweat, 29, of Cordova, Tennessee, on one count of conspiring to distribute an amount in excess of one hundred kilograms of marijuana, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846. Lum, Vo, and Terhune were also indicted on one count of distributing marijuana, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1). In addition, Lum, Leong, Lai, Zhu, and Sweat were charged with one count of conspiring to commit money laundering offenses, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 1956(h). The indictment charges Lum, Leong, Zhu, and Sweat with several additional money laundering counts. Finally, the indictment seeks criminal forfeitures of proceeds and property obtained by the defendants as a result of their alleged drug trafficking and money laundering offenses.
All of the above-listed defendants have been arrested and are in federal custody. One additional individual was arrested, and more charges are expected. Eight federal search warrants were executed in the Western District of Tennessee, and four federal search warrants were executed in the Central District of California. In the Western District of Tennessee, law enforcement officers have seized approximately 45 pounds of hydroponic marijuana, approximately 500 “Ecstasy” (MDMA) tablets, approximately 300 hydrocodone tablets, approximately one ounce of methamphetamine, eleven firearms (including two assault rifles), fourteen vehicles, approximately $75,000.00 in cash, approximately $50,000.00 in jewelry, and fourteen bank accounts containing approximately $120,000.00. In the Central District of California, law enforcement officers have seized approximately nine kilograms of cocaine, approximately $60,000.00 in cash, a tractor-trailer, and several additional vehicles. Officers also discovered a large-scale laboratory for manufacturing counterfeit passports and credit cards. In Memphis, the searches were conducted at seven locations, including Wasabi Sushi & Sake Bar at 1134 North Germantown Parkway in Cordova, Tennessee, and Mandarin Palace Restaurant at 2845 Bartlett Boulevard in Bartlett, Tennessee. As part of the investigation, law enforcement officers also previously seized approximately $97,200.00 in cash and approximately 63 pounds of marijuana.
The penalties for the drug conspiracy offense charged in the indictment are a minimum prison term of five years, a maximum prison term of 40 years. If a defendant has one prior drug felony conviction, the minimum prison term is increased to 20 years. The penalty for the money laundering conspiracy offense charged in the indictment is a maximum prison term of 20 years.
The case was initiated by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and referred to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Operation California Roll was headed by the DEA Drug Task Force (which consists of officers from the DEA, the Memphis Police Department, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, the Millington Police Department, the Germantown Police Department, the Bartlett Police Department, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the 30th Judicial District Drug Task Force), with assistance from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Memphis Police Department. In addition to the agencies listed above, assistance in the execution of the search warrants and arrests was provided by the United States Marshal’s Service, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Group 46 Drug Task Force in Los Angeles (which consists of officers from DEA, ICE, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office), the Montebello Police Department, the Redondo Beach Police Department, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. Officer Michael Chipman, a Memphis Police Department officer assigned to the DEA Task Force, led the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Arun G. Rao and Christopher E. Cotten with the Memphis Office of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee, are prosecuting the case for the government.
This operation stands as a model of interagency cooperation. The United States Attorney’s Office extends its admiration to all of these agencies for their superior work.
SAC Benson of the DEA AFD encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justhinktwice.com and www.dea.gov. DEA.gov takes you directly to the Diversion Control and Prescription Drugs link.