Thornton Restauranteur Dan Tang Charged with Money Laundering of Illegal Marijuana Proceeds
JUN 19 -- DENVER – Dan Khau Tang, age 46, of Thornton, Colorado, was charged today by Information with one count of money laundering, and one count of asset forfeiture, according to Acting U.S. Attorney David Gaouette, DEA Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Sweetin, IRS Criminal Investigation Denver Field Office Special Agent in Charge Christopher Sigerson, North Metro Task Force Board President and Broomfield Police Chief Thomas Deland, and North Metro Task Force Commander J.R. Johnson. Tang surrendered this morning to U.S. Marshals. He made his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix, where he was advised of the charges pending against him. He was then released on bond.
According to the Information, between January 1, 2007, and February 16, 2008, Dan Tang and others, did knowingly and intentionally conspire to conduct a series of financial transactions involving the proceeds from a specified unlawful activity, namely the cultivation and distribution of marijuana. The Information continues to allege that Tang knew that the financial transactions were designed to conceal and disguise the proceeds of the illegal activity.
The Information also includes an asset forfeiture allegation, which states that upon conviction of the money laundering charge, Tang shall forfeit to the United States all of his right, title and interest in all property, including over $1.8 million in cash or money from bank accounts seized by the government.
The investigation into Tang started in September of 2007, when the DEA and the North Metro Task Force targeted a large-scale Asian indoor marijuana cultivation and distribution organization in Metro Denver. The operation was spearheaded by members of Dan Tang’s immediate family, and employees of Tang’s restaurant, the Heaven Dragon. This investigation ultimately led to the dismantlement of 25 indoor marijuana grows, and the seizure of 24,056 marijuana plants, and the recovery of more than $3,000,000 in U.S. currency. The investigation also showed that Tang provided some of the financial assistance to organization members to purchase homes in the Denver Metro area. Some of the homes were then quickly converted into sophisticated marijuana grow operations. As part of this investigation, Adams County District Attorney Don Quick charged 10 additional people with drug related offenses.
“Dan Tang presented himself to the community as being a successful businessman,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey D. Sweetin. “In reality, he was also a successful drug dealer.”
“The cultivation and sale of marijuana is, unfortunately, still big business,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David Gaouette. “This investigation shows what tremendous results can be achieved through the close cooperation of local police, federal law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors.”
“Money laundering creates an untaxed economy that uses legitimate businesses to conceal criminal activity,” said Christopher M. Sigerson, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation, Denver Field Office. “IRS-CI has the financial investigators and expertise to follow the money and deprive criminals of their gains.”
“With this arrest not only did we take a major drug trafficker out of operation, we also made our community safer by eliminating the product that the defendant was producing, and used by people who support the drug habits by committing serious crimes such as robbery and burglary,” said Broomfield Police Chief and North Metro Task Force Board President Thomas Deland.
If convicted, Tang faces not more than 20 years in federal prison, and a fine not to exceed $500,000, or twice the value of the property involved in the money laundering transactions. He also faces a term of up to 3 years of supervised release. The actual sentence will be determined by a U.S. District Court Judge, based on advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which considers a number of factors, including the defendant’s prior criminal history.
The defendant has been charged by Information, which means he has waived his Constitutional right to be indicted by a federal grand jury.
This investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, the North Metro Drug Task Force, the Adams County District Attorney’s Office, the Denver District Attorney’s Office, the Weld County District Attorney’s Office, the Northglenn Police Department, the Westminster Police Department, the Commerce City Police Department, the Federal Heights Police Department, Brighton Police Department, the Broomfield Police Department, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, the Thornton Police Department, the Firestone Police Department, the Frederick Police Department, the Denver Police Department, and the Lakewood Police Department.
Tang is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Podolak, the Chief of the Drug Task Force Section of the United States Attorney’s Office.
The charges are only allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.