Judge Hands Down Multiple Sentences In Houston Area Ecstasy Conspiracy
HOUSTON – Six Houston residents, convicted for their roles in a multi-drug conspiracy operating in and around the Houston area over the course of approximately two years, have been ordered to serve time in federal prison, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
A federal jury convicted Thuong Thomas-More Vo, 37, Steven Marshal Boehning, 33, and Hung Van Dang, 36, on Aug. 29, 2012, following eight days of trial and approximately 10 hours of deliberations. Nanthato Phetphongsy, 36, Tay Luangpanh, 39, and Sourivong Nanthavongdouangsy, 31, had previously entered pleas of guilty.
At the lengthy hearing that concluded late Friday, U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal handed Vo a sentence of 109 months, while Boehning and Dang will serve respective terms of 38 and 36 months in federal prison. Phetphongsy, Luangpanh and Nanthavongdouangsy were ordered to serve 102, 78 and three months in prison, respectively. In handing down the sentence, Judge Rosenthal called their actions a “sinister scheme.” With the exception of Nanthavongdouangsy, who received a two-year-term of supervised release, the remaining five were further ordered to serve three years of supervised release following completion of their prison sentences.
A total of 16 people were charged in two separate indictments in relation to this case. To date, all have been convicted and 13 have now been ordered to prison.
The investigation targeted a Vietnamese and Laotian drug trafficking organization operating in Houston. The group primarily distributed ecstasy, but was also involved in the distribution of cocaine and hydroponic marijuana. Vo, among others in this case, was affiliated with the Houston-based Asian gang, known as NCP or “Northside Chink Posse.”
At trial, the government presented evidence that Vo, Boehning and Dang dealt with a now deceased drug trafficker who supplied them with ecstasy. Vo, who has a prior federal ecstasy trafficking conviction, had served as the broker for that drug trafficker and introduced Boehning and Dang to him. Vo approved the quantities and prices of ecstasy sold to Boehning and Dang who would then sell the ecstasy to their clients.
Three others who also had dealings with the same ecstasy trafficker testified at trial and described the methods used by the dealer. Two, who contended they were customers, described where they would meet to conduct drug transactions with this dealer and testified as to the coded language they used over the telephone when speaking about drug trafficking. The third person stated he was the supplier and indicated he had provided thousands of ecstasy pills to the dealer during the course of this conspiracy.
An FBI agent provided additional testimony as to conversations that took place between the dealer and Vo, Boehning and Dang about their drug trafficking business.
At the time of their pleas, Phetphongsy and Luangpanh each admitted their involvement in the distribution of significant quantities of ecstasy in and around the Houston area.
The case was the result of a two-year Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation dubbed Operation Iron Hide, led by the FBI and assisted by the Houston Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Robert Johnson and Rob Jones.