News and Press Releases

Deposited More than $150,000 in Cash: Proceeds of Marijuana Distribution

June 29, 2007

TRINH TUYET VU, 37, of Kent, Washington, was sentenced in Seattle today in by U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez to 5 months’ imprisonment, 5 months’ home detention with electronic monitoring, and 3 years’ supervised release, for conspiracy to commit money laundering. She also agreed to forfeit $136,750 and two vehicles. When she was arrested, agents found $33,000 in cash in her residence, and $2,800 in cash in her vehicle, a 2003 BMW.

VU was one of 29 people indicted in connection with a marijuana and ecstasy smuggling ring operating in Western Washington. The case was called “This Bud’s Pho You” because VU and her companion, Hong Van Nguyen, operated a Vietnamese restaurant where some of the drug deals occurred. Twenty-six of the defendants have entered guilty pleas, and VU is the eighth to be sentenced.

VU admitted making bank deposits of drug proceeds for Hong Van Nguyen. VU’s attorney, Mark Mestel requested that no prison time be imposed because VU was not involved in the underlying drug offense, but simply deposited money like a low-level courier. Judge Martinez responded that VU was unlike a courier because she enjoyed the lavish lifestyle made possible by Hong Van Nguyen’s drug dealing.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The cases were investigated by DEA, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), King Country Sheriff’s Office, Seattle Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Tacoma Police Department, Puyallup Police Department, Bonney Lake Police Department, Auburn Police Department, and the Washington State Department of Corrections.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lisca Borichewski and Doug Whalley.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington at (206) 553-4110.

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