Ten people were arrested yesterday and 8,000 plants were seized in a hydroponic marijuana-grow ring that spanned Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.
That's a lot of weed.
Authorities say one of the ringleaders, a 39-year-old "top lieutenant" from Monterey Park named Andy Tran, was an at-large fugitive:
Twenty-six locations from Arcadia to Corona were raided by feds with search warrants in-hand, the office said. Fifteen grow houses were taken down, prosecutors said.
They alleged that Arcadia resident Raymond Lam was a kingpin who organized a weed empire:
The drug trafficking organization purchased or leased single-family residences, which were converted to indoor farms with the sole purpose of growing marijuana. Each house contained industrial-size marijuana growing operations that contained, on average, 1,000 to 2,000 marijuana plants.
The marijuana grow houses exhibited identical arrangements that included specific types of hydroponic growing equipment and stolen electricity obtained through sophisticated bypasses of utility meters. After the marijuana was harvested, it was sold throughout California and across the United States.
The defendants named in a federal indictment were hit with charges of "conspiracy to manufacture, to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
That could mean at least 10 years if a suspect is successfully prosecuted, feds said.
Here's a list of 11 suspects -- innocent until proven guilty -- in the case, according to a U.S. Attorney's statement:
-Raymond A. Lam, who also used the name "Nam A. Lam," 42, of Arcadia, accused of being the overall leader of the drug trafficking organization and overseeing the acquisition of residences that were converted into full-scale, industrial-type marijuana grows;
-Simon Lam, 32, of Arcadia, a top lieutenant to Raymond Lam;
-Ken Ho, also known as "Ken Lam," 33, of Arcadia, a top lieutenant to Raymond Lam;
San S. Voong, also known as "Chen Sheng Wang," 35, of Arcadia, another top lieutenant to Raymond Lam;
-Phieu Tran, 35, of El Monte;
-Augustine Bazan Camacho, 41, of Pomona, allegedly a veteran "plant tender" who was responsible for maintaining many of the grow houses;
-Thanh Van Phu, 33, of El Monte;
-Luc Kai Phoung, who is also known as "Wong Fong," "Al Fong " and "Na Na," 50, of Rosemead, who allegedly built the electrical and utility meter by-pass systems used at the grow houses;
-Steven Huytu Lam, 52, of Walnut; and
-Li Ya Si, 42, of Temple City.