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SAN FRANCISCO – 23 June – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – U.S. At…

SAN FRANCISCO – 23 June – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan announced that yesterday, federal agents with assistance from local law enforcement conducted searches of over 25 locations and made 15 arrests1 in connection with an indictment returned last week and unsealed today. The indictment charges 19 individuals with conspiracy to grow and traffic over 1000 marijuana plants over a 4 year period; 3 individuals with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute ecstasy; and 2 individuals with conspiracy to engage in money laundering. An arrest warrant was also issued yesterday for Vince Ming Wan, who is wanted by authorities for conspiracy to distribute over 1000 marijuana plants.

U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan stated, “Operation Urban Harvest uncovered a large-scale marijuana trafficking operation involving over 25 locations in the Bay Area, including three San Francisco marijuana dispensaries. Documents unsealed today allege that this trafficking organization used several marijuana dispensaries in its conspiracy to facilitate the sale and distribution of illicit drugs, money laundering and international bulk cash smuggling. Over the course of this two-year investigation, over 17,000 marijuana plants were seized. The federal, state and local law enforcement agencies involved in this operation have done an outstanding job”

Yesterday’s searches of 10 indoor grow sites led to seizures of over 9,000 marijuana plants, with a DEA estimated street value of over $5 million. Three firearms, ecstasy, and eight vehicles were also seized during yesterday’s searches. Three marijuana dispensaries were searched in connection with these charges.

The following individuals were charged with conspiracy to cultivate, to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute over 1000 marijuana plants:

Enrique Chan, 26, San Francisco
Richard Wong, 28, San Francisco
Bartholomew J. Alexis, 29, San Francisco
Sergio Alvarez, 29, San Francisco
Asa Lee Barnla, 25, San Francisco
Jay Chen, 29, San Francisco
Minho Thomas Cho, 25, Santa Clara
Faisal Mansoor Aly Gowani, 32, San Jose
Chi Duc Hac, 24, San Francisco
Darrick Curtiss Hom, 26, San Francisco
David Lee, 24, Pacifica
Genario Valentine Lopez, 23, San Francisco
Brian Heng Lun Ly, 26, San Francisco
Roselia Puga Mendoza, 24, San Francisco
Phung Van Nguyen, 27, San Francisco
Edward Wook Sung Park, 28, San Francisco
Iris Lai Hung Tam, 61, San Bruno
Edwin Gordon Toy, 29, San Francisco
Phat Van Vuong, 30, San Francisco

Enrique Chan, Richard Wong and Thy Quang Nguyen, 31, of San Francisco were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute MDMA (ecstasy). Enrique Chan and Richard Wong were also charged with conspiracy to launder money.

The following individuals are wanted by the DEA and upon learning of these charges should turn themselves in to authorities:

* Vince Ming Wan, 33, San Francisco
* Bartholomew J. Alexis, 29, San Francisco
* Jay Chen, 29, San Francisco
* Genario Valentine Lopez, 23, San Francisco
* Phung Van Nguyen, 27, San Francisco
Edward Wook Sung Park, 28, San Francisco
* Phat Van Vuong, 30, San Francisco
* Thy Quang Nguyen, 31, San Francisco

DEA Special Agent in Charge Javier Pena stated, “Operation Urban Harvest targeted an alleged major marijuana trafficking organization also allegedly involved in the distribution of MDMA (ecstasy), which was in clear violation of federal drug law. DEA will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to target drug trafficking organizations and take them apart from top to bottom, including their financial networks.”

Prior to yesterday’s searches, local law enforcement executed state search warrants of 16 locations over the course of this investigation. These searches have led to the seizure of over 8,500 marijuana plants, with operational facilities capable of growing over 18,000 marijuana plants.

IRS Criminal Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kenneth J. Hines stated, “IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to investigate the financial aspects of drug investigations, such as we have here.”

Federal and local law enforcement have been investigating an alleged drug trafficking organization. According to an affidavit filed with the court and unsealed today, this organization is alleged to be engaged in cultivating, importing, distributing, and selling large quantities of marijuana; importing and distributing MDMA; and engaging in money laundering and international bulk cash smuggling.

The defendants arrested yesterday made their initial appearance this morning in federal court. They are currently being held in federal custody.

Each count of conspiracy to cultivate over 1000 marijuana plants, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison. The maximum penalty for conspiracy to possess and distribute MDMA is 20 years in prison. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956 is 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. An indictment only contains allegations against an individual and these defendants, as with all defendants, must be presumed innocent unless and until convicted.

The prosecution is the result of a two year investigation by agents of the DEA, San Francisco Police Department, Oakland Police Department, IRS Criminal Investigation, Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the San Mateo Narcotics Task Force and the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement. Andrew Scoble is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case.

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