Pennsylvania Man Pleads Guilty to Operating Bi-Coastal Marijuana Distribution Ring
BOSTON – A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with a large-scale marijuana distribution and money laundering ring operating between California and the East Coast.
Ratanack Oung, a/k/a Yoshi, 32, of Allentown, Pa., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. In September 2016, Oung was indicted on these charges and arrested with co-conspirator Virayuth Chau, 40, of Temecula, Calif., who pleaded guilty in March 2013. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for July 13, 2017.
Beginning around January 2014, Chau and Oung shipped large quantities of marijuana from California to the East Coast of the United States. When payment for the marijuana was due, Oung collected drug proceeds from co-conspirators and deposited the cash (typically in an amount under $10,000) into one of many “feeder” accounts in banks on the East Coast, including in Massachusetts. The “feeder” accounts were maintained in the names of businesses or persons associated with Chau in order to disguise the nature and ownership of the drug proceeds flowing into the accounts. Once the money was deposited, it was either withdrawn in cash in California or transferred into a “target” account, which was an account controlled by Chau and then withdrawn. In total, the operation distributed between 1,000 to 3,000 kilograms of marijuana and laundered approximately $6,135,035 in drug proceeds.
The charge of conspiracy to distribute marijuana provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, a minimum of three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of $1 million. The charge of money laundering provides a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division; and Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement today. The DEA, Los Angeles Division, Riverside County (California) Sheriff’s Department and Murrieta (California) Police Department also assisted with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen of Weinreb’s Narcotics & Money Laundering Unit is prosecuting the case.