Criminal Justice News

Friday, September 21, 2012

Twenty-Seven Indicted as a Result of Massive Marijuana Plant Seizure

HOUSTON—A total of 27 people have been indicted as a result of the seizure of nearly 14,000 marijuana plants during enforcement actions conducted throughout the greater Houston area on August 21, 2012, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. On that date, search warrants were executed on 60 properties located throughout Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery Counties. A total of 40 of these properties were allegedly active hydroponic marijuana grow houses and contained marijuana plants in various stages of the growth. At that time, 24 individuals were arrested and are currently now in custody.

The criminal indictment returned today charges the defendants with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance involving more than 1000 marijuana plants and conspiracy of maintaining a place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, and using controlled substances. The indictment also gives notice of forfeiture of several vehicles, U.S. currency, and assorted hydroponic equipment from the store front and warehouse.

Court records indicate that numerous houses located throughout Montgomery, Harris, and Fort Bend Counties were utilized to grow marijuana. The searches resulted in the seizure of at least 100 and up to more than 850 marijuana plants in each of the 40 grow houses, totaling approximately 13,907 marijuana plants. Also seized during the course of the enforcement action was the equipment allegedly used to grow the marijuana as well as additional equipment from a suspected hydroponic store front and warehouse.

Prior to the August 21 enforcement actions, 14 additional grow houses had previously been searched in relation to this organization, during which additional marijuana plants were seized. The total number of plants seized during the course of the overall investigation totaled approximately 19,000 plants.

The individuals arrested on August 21 and indicted today include: Thu Loan Dinh, 35; Hong Nhut Dang, 41; Anh Quang Nguyen, 52; Van Long Tran, 33; Tien Van Nguyen, 43; Minh Pham, 58; Truong Quang Lam, 37; Gioi The Nguyen, 55; Quy Ngoc Nguyen, 39; and Khac Hung Dinh, 45, all of Houston; Long Nguyen, 32; Long Do, 32; Tam Nguyen, 52; and Thang Van Doan, 35, of Conroe, Texas; Timmy Dang, 37;  Huu Trong Vu, 23; Ida Nga Pham, 33; Vinh Cong Le, 27; Hung Huy Nguyen, 48; Thiet Van Nguyen, 49; Trang Thi Kim Truong, 40; and Thi Ngo, 46, all of Spring, Texas; Yen Thi Do, 42, Richmond, Texas; and Tai Tan Nguyen, 29, of Tomball, Texas.

Also indicted were Dinh Le, 47, who is currently in state custody, and Hein Le and Johnny Ng, 51, both of Houston, who are fugitives.

A conviction for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute carries as possible punishment a term of no less than 10 years and up to life in federal prison as well as a $10 million fine. If convicted of conspiracy to maintain a place of manufacturing, each defendant also faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $500,000 fine.

The charges are the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation dubbed Green House Effect, which included federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies such as the DEA; sheriff’s offices in Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery Counties; Texas Department of Public Safety; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; FBI; Homeland Security Investigations; police departments in Houston; Katy, Pearland, Willis, Conroe, Huntsville, and Pasadena, Texas National Guard Joint Counter Drug Unit; and Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

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