News and Press Releases

Defendants Offer Advice and Equipment for Dozens of Marijuana Grows

April 11, 2007

Six people were arrested this morning after being indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana or conspiracy to commit money laundering, or both. The hub of the conspiracy was Kent Distributor, Inc., also called Kent Garden Supplies, at 18840 72nd Ave. S., Kent, Washington. The company imported supplies and equipment from Canada and purchased them domestically, and then provided them to other conspirators for use in marijuana grows. The store’s owners and employees provided advice not only about how to grow marijuana, but about how to find suitable houses for grows, how to avoid law enforcement detection, and how to avoid forfeiture of assets by the government if detected. Some conspirators were allowed to get supplies and equipment on credit and pay back the debt with profit from their marijuana crop.

During this year-long investigation, officers discovered and seized thousands of marijuana plants at more than 30 indoor marijuana grow operations, primarily located in South King County, where supplies and equipment were obtained from Kent Distributor. The indictment charges that more than $5,000,000 was laundered through Kent Distributor business and associated personal bank accounts between 2003 and September, 2006.

This morning, agents searched the warehouse and offices of Kent Distributor, as well as storage locations leased by the business. In addition, agents today searched five residences (in Federal Way, Auburn, Renton, Packwood, and Glenoma) suspected of housing marijuana grows operated by clients of Kent Distributor. Agents discovered growing marijuana plants at each of those sites, and seized a total of more than 1800 mature plants, and more than 1000 starter plants.

Agents seized the company’s entire inventory, and are seeking to forfeit it along with five residences in South King County. In addition, agents seized and will seek to forfeit the contents of more than thirty bank accounts controlled by the company and associated individuals.

United States Attorney Jeffrey C. Sullivan stated, “As security has tightened on the northern border, we are seeing organized criminal groups moving their marijuana grow operations into the Northwest from British Columbia. We want them to know that we will do everything within our power to put them out of business and into jail.”

“By providing subject matter expertise to marijuana cultivators, this organization was in the process of altering the landscape of marijuana in the northwest, further endangering the neighborhoods and communities of our towns and cities,” said Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA. “Today, the DEA, along with our federal, state, and local partners, short circuited a very sophisticated, expansive, and organized drug trafficking network.”

Those arrested today will make their initial appearance at 2:30 today.

Those indicted include:

Kent Distributor, Inc., a/k/a Kent Garden Supplies, Ltd., 18840 72nd Ave. S., Kent, Washington.
Le My Nguyen a/k/a Le M. Narain, 59, of Seatac, Washington. (Arrested today.)
Dennis Narain, 58, Seatac, Washington. (Arrested today.)
Danh Van “Victor” Nguyen, 42, Surrey, B.C., formerly of Renton, Washington.
Phoung Thao “Lisa” Tran, 35, Surrey, B.C., formerly of Renton, Washington
James Nguyen, 46, Renton, Washington. (Arrested today.)
Tan An Thai, 44, Des Moines, Washington.
Thanh Van La, 38, Bellevue, Washington. (Arrested today.)
Thu Anh “Diana” Tran, 32, Renton, Washington. (Arrested today.)
Dinh T. Nguyen, 33, Renton, Washington. (Arrested today.)

Washington State Department of Licensing records list the owners of Kent Distributor, Inc. as Lisa Tran and Dennis Narain. The business was established in 2003.

An indictment contains allegations that have not been proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Vogel. The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, King County Sheriff’s Office, Seattle Police Department, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP); Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team (VNET) and detectives from the cities of Kent, Auburn, and Renton. The United States Marshals Service assisted also.

For additional information please contact Sarah Vogel at (206) 553-7970 or after April 15, 2007, Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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