Eleven Los Angeles-area residents have been named in an indictment unsealed Tuesday targeting a Southeast Asian marijuana and counterfeit cigarette trafficking organization that operated nationwide.
Prosecutors allege members of the ring conspired to produce and distribute marijuana valued at more than $45 million, and to illegally distribute nearly 44 million cigarettes, resulting in over $7 million in lost tax revenue.
According to court documents, the Los Angeles-area defendants fulfilled a variety of roles in the ring. Several were involved in growing marijuana, while others oversaw the ring’s transportation or served as money couriers. Nine of the defendants were taken into custody on Tuesday by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Division. They were identified as Paul Coong Lay, 47, who allegedly oversaw the ring’s marijuana grow operations; Steven Qu, 54, owner of Los Angeles-area trucking company, Super Quality Logistics; Rocky Kuo, 61; Fu Chan Chuong, 48; Jia Yuan, 33; Zhu He Wang, 56; Hung Ho, 42; Kit Poon, 42; and Qui Sam Ho, 37. Two other defendants — Yun Xing, 30, Qu’s wife; and Jonathan Fierro, 24 — are still being sought.
In addition to the arrests, agents also seized 50 pounds of marijuana and approximately $50,000. Court documents alleged that the distribution ring has been operating since as early as 2010. The marijuana, along with contraband cigarettes, were shipped by truck by Super Quality Logistics from Southern California to locations throughout the United States. Law enforcement authorities followed the trucks to locations in Colorado, Tennessee and New York, where hundreds of pounds of marijuana and cases of cigarettes were subsequently off-loaded.
In addition to Homeland Security Investigations agents, authorities with the Los Angeles Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division.
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