15 Arrested, 9,000 Marijuana Plants
“Urban Harvest” charges include conspiracy to
JUN 24--SAN FRANCISCO - 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 arrests 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.
Operation Urban Harvest uncovered a large-scale marijuana trafficking operation involving over 25 locations in the Bay Area, including three San Francisco marijuana dispensaries,” said Ryan.
“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.”
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 laws. 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.”
Yesterday’s searches of 10 indoor grow sites led to seizures of over 9,000 marijuana plants, with an estimated street value of over $5 million according to the DEA. 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
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:
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.
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.
IRS Criminal Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kenneth J. Hines added, “IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to investigate the financial aspects of drug investigations, such as we have here.”
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.
Court filings related to this case may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/canFor all press inquiries, please contact Special Agent Casey McEnry (415) 436-7994 .