Major Pot House Busts in Elk Grove, Bay Area Uproot 2,500 Plants

In a joint announcement today, Elk Grove Police Department Chief Robert Lehner and Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent in Charge Gordon T...

In a joint announcement today, Elk Grove Police Department Chief Robert Lehner and Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent in Charge Gordon Taylor announced the dismantling of a what they characterized as a large scale indoor marijuana growing operation.

2,500 plants, $10 million street value; Elk Grove home biggest operation
This enforcement operation resulted in the service of 15 federal search warrants, the arrest of 9 individuals, the seizure of 7 indoor marijuana growing operations ranging from very sophisticated to modest, and nearly 2,500 marijuana plants. According to the law enforcement agencies, the operations had the capacity to produce over one ton of marijuana annually with an estimated street value of nearly $10 million dollars.

The investigation was initiated by Elk Grove Police and shortly thereafter requested assistance from the DEA Sacramento District Office, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI). According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, officers identified several residences in the Elk Grove - Sacramento region and Bay Area that were allegedly being used as marijuana cultivation sites by the group.

“The proliferation of indoor marijuana grows remains a serious issue in the Sacramento region. These locations have the potential for fires, many homes are left with molds, and poisonous pesticides are often poured down drains and into our water systems.” DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gordon Taylor said. “DEA will be persistent in tracking these criminal organizations that set up shop in our neighborhoods and pose a threat to members of the community,”

On June 30, 2010, 15 federal search warrants were served at multiple residences in Elk Grove, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and Milpitas. Law enforcement discovered marijuana grows at the seven locations. 1,097 plants were discovered at 9276 Balboa Park and 298 plants at 9277 Starfish Way, both in Elk Grove. The find on Balboa Park was the largest find of all houses searched.

One Sacramento house and four Bay Area homes were also used in the operation. Agents also discovered power had been stolen at all but one of the grow locations.

The following individuals were arrested on June 30, 2010, in connection with the investigation: Nhung Thi Vu, 51, of San Francisco, Hung Ngoc Pham, 28, of Sacramento, Cuong Thoi Long, 54, of Sacramento, Diep Hoang Vu, 38, of Oakland, Phuong Pham, 35, of Sacramento, Quoc Bui Long, 44, of San Jose, Chien Minh Le, 41, of Oakland, Thuy Thi Tran, 51, of Oakland, and Tuan Chu, 28, city of residence is unknown.

All individuals are charged with conspiracy to manufacture at least 1,000 marijuana plants, manufacturing marijuana, and knowingly maintaining a place for manufacturing marijuana. All defendants had their initial appearance in Federal Court in Sacramento on today.

If convicted of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and manufacturing marijuana, the defendants face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years, a maximum prison term of life, and a fine of up to $4,000,000. If convicted of maintaining a place for manufacturing marijuana, the defendants face a maximum prison term of 20 years and a fine of up to $500,000. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables and any applicable statutory sentencing factors.

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