News and Press Releases

Couple Owned Ten Houses -- Many were Marijuana Grow Houses

October 11, 2007

THU ANH “DIANA” TRAN, 32, and her husband JAMES NGUYEN, 47, both of Renton, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle in connection with their roles in a scheme to grow and distribute marijuana. NGUYEN pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Manufacture Marijuana and TRAN pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Structure Currency Transactions. The couple were indicted with eight others as part of a marijuana growing and money laundering conspiracy.

The alleged hub of the conspiracy was the business, Kent Distributor, Inc., also called Kent Garden Supplies, at 18840 72nd Ave. S., Kent, Washington. The Indictment alleges that 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.

Specifically in his plea agreement JAMES NGUYEN admits that he and his wife owned ten residential properties, many of which they leased to co-conspirators who used them for marijuana grows. The grow equipment was supplied by Kent Distributor, which was owned and operated by THU ANH “DIANA” TRAN’s family members. In 2005 and early 2006, agents seized almost 4,000 marijuana plants from six of the homes owned by the couple. JAMES NGUYEN and his wife collected cash rental payments from the growers -- several hundred thousand dollars in 2005 alone. In her plea agreement today, THU ANH “DIANA” TRAN, admitted that she made multiple cash deposits to bank accounts in a way intended to avoid currency reporting requirements. On just three days in 2005, TRAN structured deposits of some $36,500 in cash in order to avoid currency reporting requirement. Under the terms of the plea agreements, the couple have agreed to forfeit one of their properties to the Federal government. The others properties are pending forfeiture in State Court proceedings.

JAMES NGUYEN and THU ANH “DIANA” TRAN will be sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik on January 11, 2008.

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.

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

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