September 30th, 2006 08:45 EST
Operation Triple Play Wipes Out Ecstasy Ring
JOHN P. GILBRIDE, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, MARTIN D. FICKE, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Office of the Department of Homeland Security`s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), MARK J. MERSHON, Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), RAYMOND W. KELLY, Police Commissioner of the City of New York (NYPD) and Superintendent RON ALLEN, Officer-In-Charge Of Greater Toronto Area Drug Section, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in Toronto, Canada announced today the unsealing of charges in Manhattan federal court against 22 members of a massive Ecstasy-trafficking organization that smuggled more than $5 million worth of Ecstasy from Canada into the United States for resale.
Early this morning, 19 defendants were arrested in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland and one defendant was arrested in Canada. The defendants arrested in New York will be arraigned in Courtroom 5A, 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York, later today. To date, law enforcement offices have seized more than 50,000 Ecstasy pills worth more than $1 million, over $100,000 in cash, and a number of firearms.
According to a three-count Indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court, since 2005, the criminal organization dismantled today imported more than 250,000 Ecstasy pills " worth more than $5 million on New York City streets " from Canada into the United States for distribution. The organization was supplied by JUNG CHAO, a/k/a Tony, " and CHUNG MY HUONG NGUYEN, a/k/a Lan, " who were based in Canada and occasionally traveled into the United States to oversee the distribution of tens of thousands of Ecstasy pills.
The Indictment charges that THUONG TRI TANG, a/k/a Tang, " was the criminal organization`s primary distributor of Ecstasy in the United States. TANG had direct dealings with the sources of supply in Canada, receiving tens of thousands of Ecstasy pills at a time for distribution in the United States, it was charged. According to the Indictment, after the Ecstasy pills were secretly smuggled across the border from Canada into the United States, TANG arranged for the distribution of the organization`s pills to the distribution cells located in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, and Georgia, among other places. The distribution cells then sold the Ecstasy to retail drug dealers for resale to users in the street, in clubs, and in brothels, it was charged. One of these brothels, operated by GUAN JIAN PING, a/k/a Shao Ping, " a/k/a Mark, " was located on 153rd Street in Queens, New York. Once the Ecstasy was sold in the United States, members of the organization arranged for the drug proceeds to be collected and laundered back to the organization`s sources of supply in Canada, it was charged.
The criminal organization stored the pills at self-storage facilities located in New Jersey. On July 14, 2006, law enforcement officers seized approximately 53,000 Ecstasy pills " worth more than $1 million on New York City streets " from the organization that were hidden at a storage facility in Edison, New Jersey. The Ecstasy pills were labeled with many different stamps or markings, including, among others: cherry, " Versace, " Louis Vitton, " and 6-point star. " Photographs of the Ecstasy pills seized are attached hereto.
According to the Indictment, the members of the criminal organization charged today operated in Canada and the United States, and included, among others:
JUNG CHAO, a/k/a Tony, " and CHUNG MY HUONG NGUYEN, a/k/a Lan, " who were the sources of supply for the organization and supervised the organization`s operations in Canada, brokered sales of the Organization`s Ecstasy throughout the United States, and coordinated the laundering of the organization`s drug proceeds from the United States back to Canada;
THUONG TRI TANG, a/k/a Tang, " who was the primary broker of the organization`s sales of Ecstasy in the United States, and the point of contact for local distribution cells located in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia. TANG also coordinated money-laundering activities for the organization in the United States;
SPARTAK NOKU, MOHAMMAD ALI HUSSAIN, a/k/a Eli, " and SOMNATH MUKHERJEE a/k/a Uncle Eli, " a/k/a Satishkum Patel, " who were transporters of Ecstasy for the organization;
JASON CHANG, a/k/a Jay, " JAE KANG, DANH THANH VU, a/k/a Inkman, " a/k/a Dan, " MINH NGUYEN, a/k/a Minh, " PHONG DOC NGUYEN, TEETHIAN TRANS, a/k/a Dung, " LILLY QUANG NGUYEN, a/k/a Lilly, " THANH KIM, TAIDE TAN, a/k/a Kyaw T. Paine, " a/k/a Thai, " VU P. LE, a/k/a Lee, " XIA WU HU, a/k/a Tiger, " and GUAN JIAN PING a/k/a Shao Ping, " a/k/a Mark, " who were wholesale distributors of Ecstasy for the organization in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland; and
ZHANG OU, ERIC HAN a/k/a Ah Er, " and FNU LNU, a/k/a Little Dragon, " who were Ecstasy retailers who received quantities of Ecstasy pills from GUAN JIAN PING, a/k/a Shao Ping, " a/k/a Mark, " and distributed the drugs to users in New York City.
The international law enforcement operation announced today, called Operation Triple Play, " is the culmination of an 18-month investigation involving cooperation between United States authorities, including the DEA, ICE, FBI, and the NYPD, under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force ( OCDETF "), DEA`s Special Operations Division and the RCMP in Toronto, Canada.
Mr. GARCIA praised the investigative efforts of the DEA, ICE, the FBI, the NYPD, OCDETF, and the RCMP.
"Out of all the dangers of illegal drugs, ecstasy is of special concern because it is aimed at our teens and youth disguising itself to look like candy, " said Mr. GILBRIDE. Today we have decimated a criminal organization that was responsible for distributing hundreds of thousands of Ecstasy doses throughout our community. These indictments serve notice to the public that DEA and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate the illegal trafficking of Ecstasy or any drug that could harm our children " we are here to protect them. "
Mr. GARCIA stated: Operation Triple Play has completely dismantled a powerful Ecstasy-trafficking organization from the source of the supply in Canada to the streets of New York City. We are committed to standing with our law enforcement partners in Canada, and throughout the world, in the battle against the international organized crime groups that contaminate our communities with illegal narcotics. "
Mr. FICKE stated: This investigation exemplifies the cooperation between federal and international law enforcement agencies. Together, we dismantled a major Ecstasy trafficking organization that poisoned our streets with their drugs and threatened the welfare of our communities. With these arrests, we are sending a message to drug traffickers in New York, the United States and Canada that we are targeting your organizations and we will shut down your illegal enterprises wherever they may be. "
Mr. MERSHON stated: Today`s charges and arrests are the result of seamless cooperation among the FBI, DEA, ICE and the NYPD, as well as close and coordinated work with Canadian law enforcement authorities. Working together, we have rolled up the largest network in the mid Atlantic region engaged in the trafficking of ecstasy, a highly dangerous controlled substance. "
All the defendants charged in the Indictment face a maximum sentence of 20 years` imprisonment on the Ecstasy-trafficking charges. One defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years` imprisonment on bulk cash smuggling charges. In addition, various defendants face an additional maximum sentence of 20 years` imprisonment on money laundering charges.
The prosecution is being handled by the International Narcotics Trafficking Unit of the United States Attorney`s Office for the Southern District of New York. MARC P. BERGER and DAVID MASSEY are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.