Crime News

Members of the Transnational Drug Cartel Arrested with Drugs valued over $160M

Members of the Transnational Drug Cartel Arrested with Drugs valued over $160M

Los Angeles, California: Federal authorities announced on Friday that four men from Southern California are accused of running a transnational drug trafficking organization that sent large quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand.

They purportedly concealed in instant noodle packets, car parts, emergency kits, and subwoofers to evade detection.

Hoang Xuan Le, 42, of Tustin, and Tri Cao Buinguyen, 38, of Garden Grove were apprehended by the authorities on Thursday. They were produced before the court on Friday.

The accomplices of these 2 men were also detained. Le and Tri Buinguyen, as well as Trung Buinguyen, 40, of Lakewood, and Narongsak Champy, 28, of Long Beach, have all been charged with one count each of conspiracy to export and distribute prohibited narcotics.

Le and Tri Buinguyen are also charged with one count of methamphetamine distribution.

According to the prosecution, law officers found more than 220 pounds of cocaine and 1,664 pounds of methamphetamine. The estimated worth of the drugs confiscated by law enforcement is more than $65 million and may reach $160 million.

Prosecutors stated that each defendant may receive a sentence of up to life in federal prison if found guilty of all charges.

As per the indictment, Le and Tri Buinguyen had communication with members of the drug trafficking organization in Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea between February 2017 and September 2022.

According to the indictment, they then made arrangements for the bulk export of drugs from the United States to these countries by air cargo, ocean freight, and the U.S. mail. They did this while hiding the drugs’ true nature on customs documents and manifests and hiding them inside a variety of commercial products.

Allegedly, drugs were passed off as real business goods. For instance, it is alleged that Le and Tri Buinguyen oversaw the shipment of 860 pounds of methamphetamine to Australia in the summer of 2018—which was hidden in packets of instant noodles and mushroom seasoning—as well as the export of 249 pounds of methamphetamine and over 220 pounds of cocaine—which was covered up as garlic seasoning—in September of the same year.

The DOJ said that further drug shipments were hidden in emergency kits, auto components, subwoofers, and specially-made metal crates.

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