15 Linked to Major Ecstasy Ring Indicted
AUG 05 - (LOS ANGELES) – Culminating a joint Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD) investigation that led to the seizure of well over 1.1 million MDMA tablets this year, a federal grand jury has indicted 15 men linked to a San Gabriel Valley-based drug trafficking organization that was allegedly responsible for distributing hundreds of thousands of MDMA pills every month.
The indictment accuses the 15 defendants of participating in a conspiracy to distribute huge quantities of 3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), which is the chemical name of a party drug commonly called ecstasy. Ecstasy has recently been linked to the deaths of several teenagers who had ingested the drug at large “raves” at the Los Angeles Coliseum and Los Angeles Sports Arena.
“Ecstasy is a serious threat to our communities, particularly to our teens and youth who are often unaware of the significant harm this drug can cause,” said Timothy J. Landrum, DEA Special Agent in Charge. “We have crushed a criminal organization that distributed huge quantities of ecstasy tablets. These arrests serve notice that DEA and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate the illegal trafficking of ecstasy in our communities.”
The drug trafficking organization targeted in the indictment was alleged headed by Jimmy Luong, who maintained a “stash house” in the City of Industry that served as the base of operations for the drug ring. During the execution of a search warrant at Luong’s stash house in July 2010, authorities found an operation laboratory capable of manufacturing large quantities of MDMA and methamphetamine. At a second stash location at a storage facility in Arcadia, authorities in June seized approximately 510,000 MDMA tablets. A third stash location yielded approximately 200,000 MDMA tablets when Luong and his associates were arrested in July.
During the first seven months of 2010, the investigation resulted in the seizure of at least 1,134,000 MDMA tablets (investigators are still counting tablets seized two weeks ago), 33 kilograms of cocaine, well over $500,000 in cash believed to be the proceeds of drug trafficking, and 21 firearms, which include assault rifles and stolen weapons with hollow-point ammunition. With a street price of $15 per pill, authorities have seized at least $17 million worth of ecstasy.
Beverly Hills PD Captain Mitch McCann stated, “These arrests and seizures are the culmination of countless hours of effort on the part of the Beverly Hills Police Department Special Enforcement Section and our partners in combating crime. It is an example of how criminal operations of this level are not an isolated event. They are far reaching concerns with toxic effects that stretch across social, ethnic, physical, and financial boundaries to harm all people. An arrest of this magnitude goes a long way in making our society and community a safer place to work and live.”
The defendants charged in the indictment are:
“Ecstasy is a dangerous narcotic that can cause death, as we have seen at a number of local events in recent years,” said United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. “The death of a teenage girl at a rave several weeks ago and the huge number of tablets recently seized from this drug ring clearly demonstrate that ecstasy is a growing problem. We have now dismantled one large-scale ecstasy ring, and other MDMA traffickers should know that we’re coming after them next.”
John A Torres, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Los Angeles Field Division commented: “Firearms are tools used by many drug cartels and now ecstasy organizations. In the course of this ecstasy investigation, ATF and our law enforcement partners seized 21 firearms, some of which were similar to those used by law enforcement and the military. ATF will now use our expertise to trace each firearm to a potential source and go after whoever may be illegally purchasing these guns or supplying them to this criminal enterprise.”
The investigation into the Luong drug trafficking organization was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Beverly Hills Police Department, with significant assistance from the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force (LA IMPACT).
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.