Leaders of Clandestine Marijuana Grow House Organization Sentenced to Federal Prison
HOUSTON – The three leaders of a Houston area indoor marijuana grow house organization have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, announced Acting United States Attorney Abe Martinez. Quang Nguyen, 50, pleaded guilty Aug. 15, 2016, while Phuc Tran, 44, and his wife, Thuy Tran, 44, pleaded guilty in July and October 2016, respectfully. All resided in Houston.
Today, U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett handed Nguyen a sentence of 120 month in federal prison. Judge Bennett sentenced Phuc and Thuy Tran last week to respective terms of 87 and 72 months.
These three were held accountable as leaders of their respective clandestine marijuana grow cells working together to further the manufacture and distribution of high-grade hydroponic marijuana in a total of eight grow houses located in Houston area suburbs. The grow houses were identified during a year-long investigation into the organization, which began in March 2014. The investigation ultimately resulted in the seizure of more than 2600 thriving marijuana plants and approximately 80 pounds of harvested hydroponic marijuana buds from six of the grow houses over the course of five days in April 2015.
A pound of hydroponic marijuana sells in the Houston area for approximately $2500 per pound.
A total of nine defendants were charged in the case, most of whom were taken into custody as authorities executed search warrants at two of the six grow houses and found them engaged in harvesting mature marijuana plants. All nine eventually pleaded guilty for their respective roles to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1000 or more marijuana plants. The other six defendants occupied roles in the conspiracy as marijuana grow house tenders, grow house owners and/or occasional harvest help personnel and were sentenced previously to terms ranging from 22 months to 37 months in federal prison.
Nguyen and the Trans have been and will remain will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
This case is the result of a multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation dubbed Operation Green House Effect conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Task Force, Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Houston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy G. Herrera prosecuted the case.