Six Members of Alleged Northern Virginia Ecstasy
MAR 26 -- ALEXANDRIA, Va. – On March 25, 2010, a federal grand jury has indicted six people alleged to be part of a trafficking ring conspiring to supply Ecstasy and marijuana throughout the Washington, D.C., metro area, along with firearm and money laundering charges. In addition, Jonathan Pai, 20, Fairfax, Va., pled guilty Tuesday to conspiring with these individuals to traffic Ecstasy and marijuana.
Ava Cooper-Davis, Special Agent in Charge for Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s Washington Division; Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent made the announcement.
“Ecstasy is a serious threat to our society. Its users are often young and unaware of its potentially deadly side effects,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Cooper-Davis. “Our community is safer after dismantling drug trafficking organizations like the one indicted today.”
According to the indictment and Pai’s statement of facts, from February 2009 to February 2010, Pai allegedly regularly obtained Ecstasy and marijuana from Chen Chieh Yam, 29, Hyattsville, Md., and would work with others alleged in the indictment to distribute the illegal drugs throughout Northern Virginia and the surrounding area. Those working with Pai would allegedly collect the drug proceeds and provide bulk payments to Pai, who would give the proceeds to Yam.
Pai admitted in court that he sold more than 7,000 Ecstasy pills to an undercover law enforcement officer through a series of drug buys conducted at the Tysons Corner Center in McLean, Va. He also admitted that he and others obtained hundreds of kilograms of marijuana from Yam and that other alleged conspirators operated stash houses to maintain, grow, store and distribute marijuana.
According to the indictment and Pai’s statement in court, various members of the conspiracy allegedly possessed firearms, and in December 2009, Yam allegedly provided Pai with a .45 caliber handgun, which Pai stored at a drug stash house.
Pai faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 11, 2010.
Those charged in the indictment include:
Yam, who is charged with conspiracy, distribution of Ecstasy, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and money laundering.
Tofun Ali Ghasri, 21, Manassas, Va., who is charged with conspiracy and distribution of Ecstasy.
The conspiracy charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years in prison. The distribution charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. Money laundering conspiracy carries a 20-year maximum. In addition, the firearm charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum of life imprisonment, which runs consecutive to any other sentence imposed.
This case is being investigating by the DEA, the Virginia State Police, the Fairfax County Police Department, and the Montgomery County (MD) Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Grooms and Special Assistant United States Attorney Tritia Yuen are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
The public is reminded that an indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.