News and Press Releases

Woman Arrested Crossing into U.S. with Gas Tank Loaded with 84 Lbs. Of Ecstasy

October 30, 2009

NGUYEN LOAN ANH TRINH, 31, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release for Possession with Intent to Distribute methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). TRINH was arrested May 23, 2009, as she attempted to cross into the United States from Canada with 84 pounds of ecstasy hidden in the gas tank of the SUV she was driving. The pills were worth about $1.2 million. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman noted that TRINH was likely smuggling for her husband, who remains in Canada. “You can’t take direction from somebody else,” Judge Pechman told TRINH.

According to the plea agreement and sentencing memo, records show TRINH had made 38 entries into the United States over the past two years. On at least ten of those she admits she was smuggling drugs. On May 23, 2009, TRINH arrived at the Blaine Port of Entry in a 2008 Acura MDX SUV. During secondary inspection, Customs and Border Protection officers found a ratchet tool behind the drivers seat that fit bolts used to secure the back seat. The officers discovered the bolts were only hand tightened. When they removed the back seat, they found an access plate to the gas tank. Inside officers found 60 bags of pills – more than 120,000 ecstasy pills in all. The GPS in the car was set for a route to San Francisco, California.

Asking the court for a significant sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Brown noted for the court that TRINH had profited from her drug smuggling with a $900,000 residence. “ her own admission, she had made numerous previous trips into the United States carrying illegal drugs. Moreover, she has personally benefitted a great deal from her importation and distribution of drugs. Despite her modest legal income, the Defendant owns expensive vehicles and an expensive home. Her involvement in this ongoing activity is serious and deserving of a significant period of imprisonment,” Mr. Brown wrote in his sentencing memo.

The case was investigated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Brown.

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

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