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News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2003

State, Local, and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies
Announce Indictments Against 23 Members of Alleged
Asian Gang Operating In Denver Metro Area

JUN 26--Denver, CO--State, local, and federal law enforcement agencies announced today that an investigation spearheaded by the Metro Gang Task Force and the Colorado Attorney General's Office resulted in a statewide grand jury indictment of 23 members of an alleged criminal enterprise known as the "Viet Pride Gangsters," or "VPG." The defendants are variously accused of attempted first-degree murder, assault, burglary, theft, and drug trafficking.

At a news conference at the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, Attorney General Ken Salazar, Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas, Lt. Jim Welton of the Metro Gang Task Force, Mr. Jeffrey Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge for the Rocky Mountain Region, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and other representatives of law enforcement agencies involved announced four indictments obtained by the Colorado Attorney General's Office involving almost 100 criminal charges against the various named defendants on June 13, 2003. The indictments were sealed pending the arrest of the defendants and/or court order from the trial court. Arrests were begun by local law enforcement agencies around the Denver metro area in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday morning. Sixteen arrests were made this morning, six defendants were already in custody, and one defendant remains at large.

A list of the defendants and a numerical itemization of the charges against them is attached for reference. The defendants will be tried in Jefferson County District Court.

More than 20 law enforcement agencies were involved in or had a connection to the investigation leading up to last week's indictments. They include the Metro Gang Task Force; Attorney General Ken Salazar's Office; Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas' Office; Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter's Office; Adams County District Attorney Bob Grant's Office; Araphaoe County District Attorney Jim Peters' Office; Chaffee County District Attorney Ed Rogers' Office; Aurora Police Department, Denver Police Department; Lakewood Police Department; Westminster Police Department; Arvada Police Department; Adams County Sheriffs Office; Arapahoe County Sheriffs Office; Douglas County Sheriffs Office; Jefferson County Sheriffs Office; the Colorado Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area intelligence center.

Fifteen of the named defendants are charged with conspiring and conducting a criminal enterprise through racketeering activity (racketeering), a class 2 felony. The 15 are also variously charged with a other crimes, including: attempt to commit first degree murder (class 2 felony); assault (class 4 felony); menacing with a deadly weapon (class 5 felony); illegal discharge of a firearm (class 5 felony); theft (class 4 and 3 felonies); burglary (class 3 felony); possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) (class 4 felony); conspiracy to distribute marijuana and distribution of marijuana (class 4 felonies); and introduction of contraband (into a prison facility) (class 4 felony).

Four other defendants are charged by separate indictment with a single count of accessory to a crime (class 5 felony); two other defendants are charged by separate indictment with conspiracy to commit first degree murder and attempt to commit first degree murder (class 2 felonies); and two other defendants are charged by separate indictment with conspiracy to commit assault and assault (class 4 felonies).

The main indictment alleges that between August 1995 and December 2002, the 15 named defendants engaged in a criminal enterprise in Jefferson, Arapahoe, Douglas, Chaffee, Adams and Denver Counties as a criminal street gang known as "Viet Pride Gangsters" composed primarily of Asian males of Vietnamese descent.

According to the indictment, the core group of the Colorado gang started in the early 1990s in Denver, with its original roots in California. The group expanded and has extensive membership throughout the Denver metro area, where their alleged criminal activities are centered. These activities are designed not only to recruit and retain gang membership, but also to provide financial benefit to both individual members and the group in general. Many of the counts in the indictments address crimes allegedly committed to serve these purposes. They advertise their gang through traditional symbols such as tattoos, markings, graffitti, and hand gestures.

The Viet Pride gang also allegedly target Asian victims for burglaries. Various of the defendants also allegedly engaged in acts of retaliation and other violence alleged members or associates of the so-called rival "Asian Pride" gang, or "AP". Many of the counts in the indictments reflect these kinds of criminal activity allegedly committed by the various defendants.

Examples of some of the criminal activity for which various defendants are charged the indictments:

Attempted murder of several alleged rival gang members or associates, as well as assault and menacing of alleged rivals, in particular alleged members or associates of the so-called "Asian Pride Gang", and in one case, members of a local Laotian community. These charges stem in part from shooting confrontations and other incidents involving firearms at various locations in the five-county Denver metro region

Staging another shooting incident in order to avoid having gang members from being implicated in an earlier, real shooting incident. That real shooting incident also forms the basis for some of the charges in the main indictment.

Other acts of assault involving knives, bludgeons and mace against alleged rival gang members or associates.

Threatening or intimidating a victim/witness in one of the shooting confrontations in the City and County of Denver Courthouse in a case in which an alleged VPG gang member was the defendant.

Burglarizing homes of fellow Asians, in one case, a relative of an alleged gang member. In some cases, the homes were allegedly ransacked during the burglaries and robberies. The cash and stolen goods, or proceeds from the sale of stolen goods, were then allegedly distributed among VPG members or associates.

Attempting to or smuggling marijuana and methamphetamine to one of the named defendants then serving a prison sentence at the Buena Vista Correctional Facility in Chaffee County.

Motor vehicle theft or attempted motor vehicle theft.


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