A two-year investigation dubbed Operation Candy Box has led to two indictments in Los Angeles and today resulted in the arrest of 15 defendants linked to an international ecstacy trafficking ring. The arrests stemming from the Los Angeles indictments are among more than 120 arrests in the United States and Canada resulting from charges brought by officials in both countries.
Among those arrested today are alleged ringleaders Ze Wai Wong, a Chinese national, and Thi Phuong Mai Le, a Vietnamese national. Indictments in Los Angeles, New York and Canada accuse Wong of being the leader of a drug trafficking ring that operated in Canada and distributed narcotics in 18 cities in the United States. Le is accused of orchestrating the laundering of the drug proceeds. An indictment filed in Los Angeles accuses Wong and Le of operating a continuing criminal enterprise, an offense that could lead to a prison sentence of life without parole.
The national press release announcing Operation Candy Box can be obtained from the Department of Justice at (202) 514-2007 or see: www.usdoj.gov
The Wong organization allegedly manufactured ecstacy tablets in Canada and then smuggled them into the United States, where a number of distribution cells operated across the country. Wong allegedly orchestrated the manufacture of millions of ecstacy tablets. The Los Angeles part of the investigation has led to the seizure of more than 6,500 ecstacy tablets and more than $300,000 in cash.
On March 24, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles returned two indictments. The first charges Wong, Le and 10 other defendants with conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute ecstacy (technically known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA), distributing ecstacy and conspiring to money launder. The 11-count indictment was unsealed today after arrests were made across North America. Those charged in the indictment are:
* Ze Wai Wong, 43, of Toronto;
* Kiet Duc Ha, 41, of Toronto;
* Thi Phuong Mai Le, 38, of Ottawa;
* Quy Han Luu, 40, of San Gabriel;
* Pei Zhi Huang, 46, of Rosemead;
* Thai Van Ngo, 30, of Santa Ana;
* Dieu Xuan Hoang, 31, of Midway City;
* Sonha Kim Tram, 29, of Huntington Beach;
* Andy Le, 40, of Seattle;
* Do Duc Nguyen, 38, of Stanton;
* De Sau, 27, of Los Angeles; and
* Chuong Minh Luong, 24, of Alhambra.
* Three of these defendants – Huang, Nguyen and Le – are fugitives who are currently being sought by federal authorities. The defendants who have been arrested in Southern California will be making their initial court appearances this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
* In addition to the criminal charges, this indictment seeks the forfeiture of $25 million, which represents the proceeds generated by the drug trafficking offenses alleged in the indictment.
* The second indictment names seven defendants who were part of a separate trafficking ring that allegedly distributed ecstacy, some of which originated from the organization headed by Wong. The defendants in this case are:
* Quang Vic Ta, 33, of Garden Grove;
* Anh Hao Phan, 30, of Bellflower;
* Quang Vinh Huynh, 27, of Rosemead;
* Sonha Tram (who is also charged in U.S. v. Wong);
* Jonathan Duan Diep, 27, of Huntington Beach;
* Rick Samaun Sreng, 31, of Bellflower; and
* Jenny Chau Troung, 32, of Fountain Valley.
* Again, those taken into custody today are scheduled to make their first court appearances this afternoon.
* An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
* Operation Candy Box was an investigation conducted by the Los Angeles High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force and involved special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and IRS-Criminal Investigation. These federal agencies received assistance from a host of local law enforcement agencies, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, and the Police Departments of the cities of Tustin, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Garden Grove and Westminster. Three other agencies assisted in the Los Angeles portion of Operation Candy Box: the Bellevue (Washington) Police Department, the Louisiana State Police and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
* (Three other Operation Candy Box defendants who were charged by the United States Attorney’s Office in Houston were arrested by FBI agents this morning in Southern California. Those defendants charged in the Houston case – Mo Wang Bao, 22, Jin Huang, 22, and Yu Li, 19, all of San Gabriel – will also be making their initial court appearances this afternoon in Los Angeles.)