International Marijuana And Money-Laundering Organization Dismantled
JUN 7--Detroit, Michigan- On June 7, 2004, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Jeffrey G. Collins, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride, Michigan State Police (MSP) Captain Ann Marie Gibson, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Assistant Commissioner Bradley Holman, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Regional Director Pete DiPonio and Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Brian Moskowitz announce the culmination of a year-long international marijuana and money laundering investigation. The investigation centered on an Asian controlled Organized Crime Syndicate that exported high potency marijuana from Canada to various cities throughout the Midwest and Northeast United States. Marijuana was smuggled into the United States by passenger vehicle and commercial truck.
This morning a federal grand jury indictment was unsealed in Detroit charging sixteen people with various narcotics and money laundering offenses. This organization routinely utilized international crossings at the Ambassador Bridge, Detroit-Windsor tunnel and Sarnia Blue Water Bridge. This organization was headed by Trong NGUYEN and his criminal associates based in the Greater Toronto Area. While the organization was based in Toronto, “cells” were operating in Detroit, Boston, Pittsburgh, Hagerstown, Maryland, Camden, New Jersey, Columbus, Ohio, Tennessee, Mississippi, and California. This group trafficked in high potency hydroponic marijuana, which routinely sells for $3,500-$4,000 per pound. Trong NGUYEN’s organization was capable of producing multi-ton quantities of hydroponic marijuana per year.
Today’s announcement highlights the strengthened international working relationships between American and Canadian law enforcement agencies. As a result of this operation, law enforcement has seized approximately $5 million in narcotics proceeds, 1,700 pounds of marijuana and 3,000 tablets of Ecstasy.
“These traffickers attempted to exploit the border between Detroit and Windsor. Their efforts were thwarted because of the coordination of law enforcement resources and intelligence which has increased our border security and awareness,” said Jeffrey G. Collins, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
“Today’s arrests demonstrate what can be accomplished when U.S. and Canadian law enforcement bring their particular expertise to bear on a criminal organization. This drug trafficking organization was dismantled by attacking, on both sides of the border, the drug transportation routes along with the mechanism used to repatriate illegal narcotics proceeds,” said John P. Gilbride, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Detroit Field Division.
“Organized crime is an international problem that requires international solution,” said Pete DiPonio, Regional Director General, Canada Border Services Agency (Windsor-St. Clair Region). “The most effective way we can protect our respective countries and borders is through integrated and coordinated law enforcement, utilizing the expertise, intelligence, and resources of our domestic and international law enforcement partners.”
“Contemporary criminal organizations are made up of fluid opportunistic, profit-driven partnerships that move with a great deal of flexibility across borders to sustain their criminal enterprise,” said Assistant Commissioner Bradley Holman, Commanding Officer RCMP “O” Division (Ontario). The only way we can detect, investigate, and prevent cross-border crime is through cooperation and intelligence sharing at the domestic and international level. The RCMP’s relationship with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Canada Border Services Agency is vital to keeping the communities and citizens safe on both sides of our shared border.”
Those charged in this indictment include:
Refer to the criminal indictment for specific charges as they relate to individual defendants. Enforcement actions will be taking place in numerous cities throughout the United States as a result of investigative leads from this investigation.
The success and scope of this investigation would not have been realized