News Release
April 14, 2008
Contact: Joanna Zoltay
Number: 312-886-2597

Indoor Marijuana Grow Organization Disrupted
5800 Plants Seized, Six Defendants Arrested

APR 14 -- (Minneapolis, IN) - Six defendants have been charged in federal court in connection with what authorities say may be the largest indoor marijuana growing operation in Minnesota history. Approximately 5,800 marijuana plants were seized during the execution of 19 federal search warrants served at residences in the Twin Cities area which included Brooklyn Park, Burnsville, Coon Rapids, Eagan, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville and Maplewood.

The joint law enforcement effort began in January 2008 and involved information that Tung Nguyen was allegedly operating an indoor marijuana grow operation at a Burnsville residence. Authorities began surveillance of the defendants and observed them allegedly purchasing supplies commonly used to construct indoor marijuana grow operations.

The investigation has culminated in federal charges being filed against the following individuals for conspiracy to manufacture 1,000 or more marijuana plants: Thin Do, 30, Bloomington; Nam Nguyen, 32, Roseville; Thuong Nguyen, 45, Brooklyn Park; Tung Nguyen, 33, Bloomington; Lai Pham, 36, Shakopee; and Sonny Pham, unknown age, unknown address. All defendants had initial court appearances on April 11, 2008.

“The ability to make marijuana more potent has unfortunately become a trend with indoor grow operations,” stated Gary G. Olenkiewicz, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Chicago Field Division which covers Minnesota. “This was a sophisticated indoor marijuana grow and distribution organization that drug law enforcement has been able to cut off at the roots. The multiple arrests and seizures are attributed to the outstanding drug law enforcement partnerships between DEA, the West Hennepin County Drug Task Force, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit, the United States Attorney’s Office and other participating federal, state, and local agencies.”

Subsequent to federal search warrants executed in eight residences, authorities recovered marijuana plants, along with other evidence of marijuana cultivation. More than 2,300 plants were recovered at two Maplewood residences, more than 300 plants at one in Burnsville; more than 400 at one in Brooklyn Park; more than 100 at one in Coon Rapids; more than 700 at one in Inver Grove Heights; more than 500 at one in Lakeville; and more than 600 plants at one in Eagan. In addition to the marijuana, agents and officers seized approximately $77,000 in U.S. Currency, one firearm, and several vehicles.

This case is the result of a joint investigation by the DEA, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit, and the West Hennepin County Drug Task Force, with assistance from both the Northwest and Southwest Hennepin County Drug Task Forces, the Dakota County Drug Task Force, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit, the Minneapolis Gang Strike Force, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Minnesota National Guard, and the police departments of Burnsville, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids, Eagan, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, Maplewood, and St. Paul. It is being prosecuted in the District of Minnesota by Assistant United States Attorney LeeAnn K. Bell.

The public is reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial or by a guilty plea.