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Sept. 10, 2009

HOUSTON BUSINESS OWNER SENTENCED TO 22 YEARS FOR MONEY LAUNDERING AND FAILING TO FILE CURRENCY TRANSACTION REPORTS

(HOUSTON) - Dong Dang Huynh has been sentenced to 22 years imprisonment for his participation in an international narcotics money laundering scheme, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Huynh was convicted of conspiring to commit money laundering concealment, eight counts of violating the money laundering spending statute and for failing to file Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) on July 18, 2008, after a three-week jury trial before United States District Judge Melinda Harmon. Judge Harmon handed down the lengthy prison sentence this morning and further entered an order directing Huynh to forfeit $24 million dollars in proceeds generated by the international money laundering scheme.

Huynh participated in a money laundering conspiracy through his money remittance company U.S. Tours and Remittance Inc., located in Houston and in various cities throughout California. He utilized U.S. Tours to receive proceeds from the sale of ecstacy manufactured in Canada and sold throughout the United States, sent those proceeds to Vietnam under the guise of being legitimate remittance deposits from individuals in the Vietnamese community in Texas and elsewhere and eventually moved the illegal proceeds back to the drug manufacturers in Canada. 

A remittance company is a business licensed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and various state agencies to accept cash from individuals in the U.S. who seek to transfer those funds to relatives or friends out of the country. Huynh’s remittance company catered to the Vietnamese community and was exclusively engaged in transferring money from the United States to Vietnam. Money Remittance businesses are required to file a CTR with the IRS for cash transactions of more than $10,000 and must maintain customer information as required by Texas law for deposits more than $3,000.

In order to accomplish the laundering scheme, Huynh and an employee at his direction accepted large cash deposits from particular individuals, including funds demonstrated at trial to be profits from the sale of narcotics, without obtaining identification or filing CTRs. Deposits from these “special customers” sometimes reached amounts as large as $500,000 cash in a single transaction. Huynh further instructed his employee to: break down the large deposits into sums less than $3,000, assign fictitious names to the smaller deposits and create and maintain false receipts for the broken down amounts in the event U.S. Tours was to be audited or examined by the IRS or the Texas Department of Banking. Huynh then had the large cash sums deposited evenly over a series of days into domestic U.S. Tours bank accounts so as to avoid the scrutiny of a single large cash deposit. Finally, Huynh would have the proceeds periodically wired to Cuu Kim Son, a money remitting agency in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, owned and operated by his brother. 

Huynh was charged in the indictment with co-defendant Thi Phuong Mai Le, a Canadian citizen, who pleaded guilty to money laundering prior to trial. Testimony during Huynh’s trial showed the funds associated with co-defendant Mai Le were profits from the sale of ecstacy that were subsequently sent back to Canada for delivery to individuals involved in the drug’s manufacture and distribution. It was further demonstrated that during the time span of the conspiracy, from January 2003 through March 2004, the “special customers” for whom Huynh accepted money and failed to file CTRs, deposited a total of more than $24 million at U.S. Tours’ Houston location and that all of those funds were subsequently transmitted to Vietnam. 

Mai Le was sentenced by Judge Harmon to 15 years imprisonment in October 2008. Huynh has been in custody without bond since the return of the guilty verdict in July 2008 and will remain in federal custody to serve his sentence.

All of the criminal charges are the result of a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional investigation led by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jason Varnado and Joe Magliolo.

 

 

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