LOS ANGELES – A Canadian national was found guilty by a jury today of federal criminal charges for leading a drug-trafficking organization that intended to export hundreds of pounds of cocaine and heroin from Southern California into Canada and imported MDMA (Ecstasy) into the United States using big-rig trucks and fully encrypted telephones to achieve their aims.
Vincent Yen Tek Chiu, 43, a.k.a. “El Chino,” “Tiger,” “TigerOfMexico,” “TigerOfSweden,” of Vancouver, Canada, was found guilty of five felonies: one count conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, one count of conspiracy to export controlled substances, one count of distribution of cocaine, one count of distribution of heroin, and one count of distribution of MDMA.
According to evidence presented at his seven-day trial, Chiu and other members of the drug trafficking organization obtained multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine, and less frequently, heroin from Los Angeles and passed the drugs to couriers who intended to transport them to Canada for further distribution. Big-rig trucks were used to try and export some of the cocaine into Canada.
Chiu arranged the purchase of bulk quantities of cocaine in the United States for importation into Canada for resale in exchange for cash or bulk quantities of MDMA. Chiu also arranged for the transportation of MDMA from Canada into the United States in exchange for cocaine. Chiu and his co-conspirators used modified cellular devices with military-grade end-to-end encryption to talk to each other about the drug buys and transportation of narcotics.
At trial, prosecutors presented evidence regarding four drug loads Chiu purchased, totaling approximately 90 kilograms (198.4 pounds) of cocaine and 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds) of heroin – with an estimated wholesale value of $4.5 million – that he intended to export to Canada.
Federal agents intercepted several of the drug deliveries in 2018 and 2019. Law enforcement seized more than $800,000 in Canadian currency during this investigation.
United States District Judge John A. Kronstadt has scheduled an August 4 sentencing hearing, at which time Chiu will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Chiu has been in federal custody since his arrest in July 2019.
The FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigated this matter. Critical support was provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the California Highway Patrol, and the West Covina Police Department. This investigation is part of the Justice Department's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
Assistant United States Attorneys Brittney M. Harris and MiRi Song of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section are prosecuting this case.