The DEA busted a large-scale marijuana distribution and money laundering ring operating between California and the East Coast today, two men were charged with drug and money laundering conspiracies, one of them remains fugitive.
The two men, 40-year-old Virayuth Chau, of Temecula, California, and 31-year-old Ratanack Oung, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, ran a drug pipeline that smuggled marijuana from California to the East Coast of the United States. Chau was indicted on one count of conspiracy to distribute over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and two counts of conspiracy to launder money. Oung was indicted on one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana and two counts of conspiracy to launder money. He remains on the run from authorities.
Starting around January 2014, prosecutors allege, Chau and Oung shipped large quantities of marijuana from California to the East Coast of the United States. When payment for the marijuana was due, co-conspirators deposited cash (typically in an amount under $10,000) into one of many “feeder” accounts in banks on the East Coast.
The “feeder” accounts were maintained in the names of businesses or persons associated with Chau in order to disguise the nature and ownership of the drug proceeds flowing into the account. Once the money was deposited, it was either withdrawn in cash in California or transferred into a “target” account, which was an account controlled by Chau and then withdrawn.
Keeping things low key, both men made a nice bundle. Authorities claim the operation laundered approximately $6,135,035 in drug proceeds.
The jig was up when, on September 14, 2016, law enforcement officers executed a series of federal and state search warrants of marijuana grow houses allegedly operated by Chau in Riverside County, California. More than 5,000 marijuana plants were seized and destroyed during these raids.
Chau and Oung face a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of these charges.
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