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Press Release

Two Arrested for Cross-Country Marijuana Trafficking Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Defendants Allegedly Transported More than 100,000 Pounds of Marijuana, Marijuana Oil and Drug Paraphernalia by Tractor Trailer from the West Coast to Queens, New York and Elsewhere, and Returned Drug Proceeds on Commercial Airlines

A criminal complaint has been unsealed in the Eastern District of New York charging Kevin Lau, Kenneth Tam and Jack Thai with conspiracy to distribute, and possession with intent to distribute, large quantities of marijuana.  Thai was arrested on July 24, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and made his initial appearance today in federal court in Brooklyn before United States Magistrate Judge Steven L. Tiscione.  Thai was released on a $50,000 bond.  Tam surrendered to law enforcement yesterday and made his initial appearance yesterday before Magistrate Judge Tiscione.  Tam was released on a $500,000 bond.  Lau is currently a fugitive.  

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, New York Field Office (HSI), announced the arrests. 

“Today’s arrests end the defendants’ scheme of shipping marijuana by tractor trailer and grounds their use of commercial airline flights to transport illicit drug cash,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “Together with HSI, our Office will continue to identify and prosecute traffickers who distribute narcotics into our communities.” 

“This trio allegedly operated a coast to coast operation, moving more than 50 tons of marijuana to New York and other cities around the U.S.,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez.  “Over the course of 3 years, trucks were used to move the product east, as far as Queens, while the proceeds were smuggled back to the west coast by plane.  HSI’s Border Enforcement Security Task Force followed the money in this large-scale drug distribution conspiracy, which resulted in the three arrests this morning.  These individuals will now make that same trip, from West Coast to East Coast, to face prosecution.”

As alleged in court documents, between February 2015 and December 2018, the defendants conspired to ship multiple kilogram quantities of marijuana by tractor trailer from California and Washington State to Queens and elsewhere for distribution.  The shipping crates used to transport the marijuana were falsely labeled as containing furniture, clothing and other merchandise.  Lau’s co-conspirators stored the crates in commercial facilities and residences in Queens and other locations in New York City.  The cash proceeds of the marijuana were then smuggled back to the West Coast concealed in luggage on commercial airlines. 

During the investigation, HSI agents seized approximately $500,000 in cash from members of the conspiracy.  Based on records of more than 200 marijuana shipments and the seizures of marijuana by law enforcement, HSI estimates that the defendants  transported more than 100,000 pounds of marijuana, marijuana oil and drug paraphernalia.

If convicted, the defendants face a mandatory minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment, and up to life in prison.

The charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys James P. McDonald and Philip Pilmar are in charge of the prosecution. 

The Defendants:

Age: 34
San Francisco, California

Age:  35
San Francisco, California

Age:  39
Las Vegas, Nevada

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-MJ-626


John Marzulli
Tyler Daniels
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated July 31, 2019

Drug Trafficking