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News Release
June 10, 2003

Key Members of International Money Laundering Ring Arrested

John McKay, United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington; John M. Bott, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Seattle; Steve Pasholk, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Seattle Field Office, Criminal Investigations, Internal Revenue Service; and Paul Watkins, Commander, South Snohomish Narcotics Task Force, announced today the arrests of key members of an international money laundering ring based in Seattle, Washington. NGHIEM NU-DOAN TRUONG, age 27, of Bellevue, Washington; ANH THOAI HUYNH, age 48, of Bellevue, Washington; KHI DUY TA, age 69, of Seattle, Washington; YEN BUI, age 57, of Bellevue, Washington; TRANG PHAN, age 32, of Federal Way, Washington, and CUONG QUOC HUYNH, age 36, appeared this afternoon before the Honorable Mary Alice Theiler, United States Magistrate Judge, in Seattle. Coordinated arrests of TUNG QUOC TRUONG, age 25, of Springfield, Virginia, and NAM BAC VU, age 48, of St. Paul, Minnesota, also occurred today.

On May 30, 2003, a Grand Jury in the Western District of Washington returned a one-count Indictment charging the defendants listed above, along with MY-A, Inc., a money services business operated by NGHIEM NU-DOAN TRUONG, with Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering, which is punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty (20) years, a fine of up to a two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($250,000.00) or twice the amount of funds involved in the offense, a term of supervised release of at least three (3) years, and a special assessment of one hundred dollars ($100.00). The Indictment also alleges that the contents of numerous bank accounts and a residence are subject to forfeiture under federal law.

Eleven search warrants were executed by agents and officers at various businesses and residences throughout Seattle and Bellevue, Washington. Simultaneous executions of search warrants were conducted around the country, including Chamblee, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Orlando, Florida; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; Harvey, Lousiana; Broomfield, Colorado; Chicago, Illinois; Springfield, Virgnia, and Falls Church, Virginia.

My-A, Inc. is a corporation engaged in the money services business and headquartered in Seattle, Washington. “Money services businesses are increasingly used by drug traffickers to launder their illicit proceeds.“ said United States Attorney John McKay. “Similar to services provided by banking institutions, money remitters conduct transfers of currency for customers from one city to another, either domestically or internationally, for a fee. Although money remitters are obligated to follow similar currency and suspicious reporting requirements as federally insured banks, they are an attractive alternative for criminals who have a need to hide the true source of their income because they can remain anonymous and avoid a paper trail. Since money services businesses generally deal in cash, remitters who engage in money laundering will commonly structure their deposits of funds from customers, that is, make multiple deposits under $10,000 within a twenty-four hour period to avoid bank reporting requirements, and will falsify their customer records to create an appearance of legitimacy. Unfortunately, money remitters are a growing concern among law enforcement due to their vulnerability as a vehicle to move funds within and outside the United States for a criminal purpose.”

The Indictment is based on a joint investigation by agents, investigators, and officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration in Seattle, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations in Seattle, and the South Snohomish Narcotics Task Force in Lynnwood. The investigation was funded in part by the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program.

Assistant United States Attorneys Ye-Ting Woo and Sarah Vogel are prosecuting the case.

Members of the public are reminded that an Indictment contains only a charge. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charge and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

For further information please contact John Hartingh, Executive Assistant United States Attorney at 206-553-4110.

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