Leaders of Violent Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Terms
Distributed Cocaine, Heroin and Meth over wide region including ‘The Jungle’ near International District in Seattle
Two Seattle men who led a violent drug trafficking organization distributing meth, heroin and cocaine were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to long prison terms for numerous counts of drug trafficking and one count of money laundering, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. SON V. TRAN, 29, the leader of the drug trafficking group was sentenced to 15 years in prison and TUAN A VU, 50, was sentenced to just over 13 years in prison. Both men will serve five years of supervised release after prison. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour noted that the men led an organization involved with both drugs and violence.
“These defendants and their organizations pumped large amounts of meth, heroin and cocaine into our communities, and they used violence to get their way,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “We will continue to use all the law enforcement tools at our disposal to ensure drug organizations like this one – from their leaders on down – are removed from our cities and towns, and held to account.”
The two-year investigation lead by the FBI’s Seattle Safe Streets Task Force (SSTF) and Bellevue Police Department’s Eastside Narcotics Task Force (ENTF), revealed that the organization distributed cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine across a wide swath of the greater Seattle metro area. According to court records and testimony at trial, beginning in February 2013 law enforcement authorities used a variety of tools including telephone wire taps and confidential sources to infiltrate and interdict this drug organization. The investigation determined that the organization distributed approximately 15-20 kilos of cocaine, 10-15 kilos of heroin and 5 kilos of methamphetamine per month. In addition, on multiple occasions members of the drug trafficking organization were arrested with firearms. During the investigation law enforcement seized drugs and cash including a September 2014 seizure of two kilos of cocaine, one pound of methamphetamine and $14,000 cash from a rental car. In March 2015, investigators seized more than $32,000 from a hidden compartment in another vehicle. At the end of the investigation, additional drugs and more than $100,000 in cash was seized from TRAN and VU’s residences.
Drug activity associated with the organization occurred over a wide geographic area with many drug sales occurring in the “Jungle” homeless encampment, as well as at homes and near businesses in Seattle, Renton, Shoreline and Kent. The drug transactions occurred in areas ranging from the parking lot of Viet Wah supermarket near South Jackson Street, the parking lot of Dick’s Drive-In on NE 45th Street, the parking lot of a gas station on Beacon Hill, and at a motel in Tukwila.
Both Son V. Tran and Tuan A. Vu were convicted of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Son V. Tran was also convicted of fifteen separate counts of distribution of controlled substance or possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute offenses. Tuan A Vu was similarly convicted of eleven separate counts of distribution of controlled substance or possession of controlled substance.
More than twenty other defendants have been sentenced in the case to prison terms ranging from two years to twelve years.
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. This investigation was led by the FBI’s Seattle Safe Streets Task Force (SSTF) and Bellevue Police Department’s Eastside Narcotics Task Force (ENTF). The SSTF includes task force officers from the Seattle Police Department, and the ENTF is composed of Bellevue Police Department officers, and agents and officers from the Washington State Patrol, US Postal Inspection Service, and the Redmond, Kirkland, and Mercer Island police departments in partnership with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Additional assistance was provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), King County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington State Department of Corrections, and the Kent and Tukwila police departments, and the Seattle Fire Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Vince Lombardi and Kate Vaughan.