News and Press Releases

Floridian Sentenced To Two Years In Prison For Canada‑To‑Pittsburgh Marijuana Pipeline

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 1, 2010

PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ A Florida resident has been sentenced in federal court to two years in prison on his conviction of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

United States District Judge Nora Barry Fischer imposed the sentence on Viet Vuong Le, 26, of Orlando, Fla.

According to information presented to the court, beginning in 2004 and continuing through July 2008, a Canadian drug trafficking group began smuggling 300# loads of high-grade, hydroponic marijuana across the border into the United States, hidden within legitimate commercial cargo.  The marijuana was destined for the Pittsburgh area, and at least six cities in other states.  The marijuana wholesaled for $2,000 per pound or more, with the retail, or "street" value being several multiples of that.

Millions of dollars in cash were sent back to Canada from Western Pennsylvania, with several shipments of drug proceeds being intercepted and seized by agents before the money could be smuggled into Canada.  Cash seizures included approximately $226,000 in Pittsburgh in February 2008; $222,000 in Niagara Falls, N.Y. in June 2008; and $662,000 in Allegheny County in July 2008.

During the period of the conspiracy, Viet Vuong Le and his Florida partner purchased 25-60 pounds of marijuana at a time on multiple occasions from a distributor in Pittsburgh.  They generally flew into Pittsburgh from Florida carrying as much as $125,000 in cash, and then returned by rental cars with marijuana to Florida, where they sold the marijuana, profiting up to $550 per pound.

Assistant United States Attorney Gregory J. Nescott prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration (Pittsburgh and Buffalo), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Cleveland), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Greater Toronto Area Drug Section, the Asian Organized Crime Task Force of Ontario, and the Canada Border Services Agency, along with the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, United States Postal Inspection Service, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the City of Pittsburgh Police for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Viet Vuong Le.

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