Three people were arrested Thursday in Los Angeles in a federal probe of a drug ring that exported hundreds of pounds of narcotics, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, from Mexico through Southern California and into Canada.
Denny Vuong, Henry “Randy” Liu and Cristian Raul Gastelum-Sanchez were arrested in the Southland while another 10 defendants were taken into custody in the Seattle and Vancouver, Canada areas, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which had no immediate information on the hometowns or ages of the three men arrested in the Los Angeles area.
Three other defendants are currently in state custody and will be transferred to federal custody at a later date, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Two grand jury indictments filed in Los Angeles charge a total of 30 defendants with a series of narcotics-related offenses, including conspiracies to distribute, import and export controlled substances. The indictments further allege that the organization imported MDMA, or ecstasy, from Canada to Southern California in exchange for other drugs.
According to the indictments and other court documents, the defendants, one of whom was arrested on Aug. 24 and remains in federal custody, were members of related international drug trafficking organizations that worked together to traffic bulk quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin from Mexico to Canada through Southern California, including at locations in Costa Mesa, Compton, Ventura and Redlands.
The drugs would be exchanged for either cash or bulk quantities of ecstasy, according to prosecutors. Some of the defendants allegedly also conspired to transport narcotics to Australia from Southern California.
The drug trafficking organizations included members of Canadian, Mexican, Serbian, Chinese and Sudanese organized crime groups, according to court documents.
The defendants allegedly used modified cellular devices with military-grade end-to-end encryption to communicate with each other regarding their drug trafficking business, including the transportation of narcotics between the United States and Canada. The devices are manufactured primarily by Canadian companies that remove most functionality from the phones, leaving only an encrypted email system, court papers state.
In total, law enforcement seized 944.7 pounds of cocaine, 19.8 pounds of heroin, 102.7 pounds of methamphetamine and 106.1 pounds of MDMA. Law enforcement also seized $811,000 in Canadian currency, prosecutors said.
If convicted of all charges, the defendants would face between 10 years and life in federal prison, prosecutors said.
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