- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2006

A federal grand jury in New York yesterday indicted 22 persons in a suspected Ecstasy trafficking ring, accused of smuggling more than $5 million worth of the drug from Canada into the United States.

John P. Gilbride, the special agent in charge of the New York office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said 19 were arrested by agents in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, and one was taken into custody in Canada. Two are fugitives.

“Out of all the dangers of illegal drugs, Ecstasy is of special concern because it is aimed at our teens and youth disguising itself to look like candy,” Mr. Gilbride said. “Today, we have decimated a criminal organization that was responsible for distributing hundreds of thousands of Ecstasy doses throughout our community.”

Law-enforcement offices seized more than 50,000 Ecstasy pills worth more than $1 million, more than $100,000 in cash and firearms. The indictment was the result of an 18-month undercover investigation known as Operation Triple Play.

According to a three-count indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the smuggling ring imported more than 250,000 Ecstasy pills, worth more than $5 million, into the United States since last year. The indictment said the organization was supplied by Jung Chao and Chung My Huong Nguyen, who were based in Canada. It said they occasionally traveled to the U.S. to oversee distribution of the pills.

The indictment identified Thuong Tri Tang as the gang’s primary distributor in the U.S., saying he had direct dealings with the suppliers in Canada, receiving tens of thousands of Ecstasy pills at a time for distribution.

DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said that after the Ecstasy pills were smuggled across the border from Canada, Mr. Tang arranged for the distribution of the pills to cells in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia.

He said the Ecstasy was then sold to drug dealers. Members of the organization, he said, arranged for the drug proceeds to be collected and laundered back to Canada.

The indictment said the gang kept the drugs at self-storage facilities in New Jersey, where federal agents seized 53,000 Ecstasy pills.

“Operation Triple Play has completely dismantled a powerful Ecstasy-trafficking organization from the source of the supply in Canada to the streets of New York City,” said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia in New York.

The investigation involved agents from the DEA, FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the New York Police Department, under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, the DEA’s Special Operations Division and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

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