MARIJUANA MANUFACTURING AND DISTRIBUTION CONSPIRACY SHUT DOWN
Feds and Locals Arrest Seven; Seize 3,700+ plants, $275,000 Cash, Cars and Jewelry
Seven people were arrested this week and charged in U.S. District Court in Seattle with Conspiracy to Manufacture Marijuana. The arrests and charges are the result of a lengthy investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the King County Sheriff’s Department and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). Search warrants served Monday and Tuesday on a dozen different residences resulted in the seizure of more than 3,700 marijuana plants worth several million dollars. During one arrest agents found $191,000 in cash tightly sealed in plastic inside a tin box in the trunk of the vehicle. While agents and officers were executing the search warrants and dismantling the marijuana grows, neighbors approached them and thanked them for shutting down the grow operations.
The conspirators first came to the attention of federal agents in connection with other drug defendants who have been charged separately in federal court. The five men and two women are being held at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac pending detention hearings Friday, January 26, 2007 and Monday, January 29, 2007.
Those charged include:
DUNG T. CAO, 31, of Puyallup, Washington
CHIEM VAN TONG, 41, of Renton, Washington
DAC HOANG TONG, 31, of Puyallup, Washington
THU VAN NGUYEN, 54, of Auburn, Washington
RAYMOND TAA, 40, of Federal Way, Washington
XUAN VAN LAM, 36, of Puyallup, Washington
MAI THI NGUYEN, 26, of Puyallup, Washington
“This operation targeted a Canadian based organization, responsible for manufacturing large scale quantities of marijuana for profit,” said Special Agent in Charge Rodney G. Benson of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Seattle Field Division. “The organization utilized homes in neighborhoods throughout King and Pierce counties, and was responsible for diverting power and utilities to facilitate their illegal endeavors, costing power companies and taxpayers hundreds and thousands of dollars”
Authorities executed search warrants at the following addresses:
31219 2nd Avenue SW, Federal Way – 394 plants, $35,000 cash
1315 Valley View Drive, Puyallup – 440 plants
31827 Kent-Black Diamond Road SE, Auburn, – 381 plants
1207 6th Avenue SW, Puyallup – 623 plants, $2,900 cash, $6,000 diamond bracelet
17703 162nd Avenue SE, Renton – 462 plants, $191,000 in car linked to address
6022 Pioneer Way East, Puyallup – 341 plants, $11,600 cash.
14514 77th Avenue Court East, Puyallup – 220 plants
“As the operations were being dismantled, many residents within those neighborhoods thanked several Deputies from the King County Sheriff’s Office and DEA Agents for addressing a problem that had created significant hazards and public safety issues for their neighborhoods and community,” said Special Agent in Charge Rodney Benson. The results from searches at three additional locations are not yet publicly available.
The charges in this case are filed in the form of a criminal complaint, which means the defendants have not entered a plea. A complaint contains allegations that have not yet been proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.
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 investigated by DEA, IRS-CI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the King County Sheriff’s Department (KCSD). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Douglas B. Whalley and Lisca Borichewski.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.