The U.S. Department of Justice has broken-up an alleged drug and cigarette trafficking ring.
According to a press release, the U.S. Attorney’s office has indicted 37 members of a Chinese marijuana and counterfeit cigarette trafficking organization that operated throughout the U.S.
The indictment states the organization allegedly conspired to manufacture and distribute 44 million cigarettes and $45 million worth of marijuana.
The defendants will appear in federal courts across the country. Authorities are still seeking four other suspects.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges Paul Coong Layand his brother Chan Coong Lay maintained a network of marijuana locations throughout California and elsewhere.
The Lay rothers’ marijuana and contraband cigarettes, were then shipped throughout the U.S. by trucks owned by QU Trucking, owned by Steven Qu and his wife Yun Xing.
ICE HSI Special Agent-in-Charge James T. Hayes, Jr., said: “This alleged drug trafficking organization was a highly organized network. These allegedly corrupt people were savvy in their alleged scheme to move hundreds of thousands of dollars and drugs throughout the United States. While some may mistakenly perceive smuggling and trafficking in narcotics as a path to a quick profit, these arrests demonstrate the serious consequences that await those who engage in the smuggling and sale of illegal drugs.”
Money generated from the sale of the marijuana and cigarettes was then laundered by member of the organization.
“Other members of the Organization laundered proceeds of the marijuana and cigarette operations through financial institutions. For example, in September 2012, law enforcement seized approximately $114,000 from TONGMIAO YAN. According to YAN, those funds belonged to JIA QIAO. A review of QIAO’s bank records, among other sources of information, revealed that QIAO and her husband, JAMES CHEN, have been laundering funds for the Organization through two entities that they control,” the press release states.
Law enforcement seized 17 bank accounts, personal vehicles and 4 trucks.