Ten people arrested after Inland Empire drug ring uncovered
Ten people accused in a drug trafficking operation spread throughout the Inland Empire and other parts of Southern California were arrested today during a sweep by local and federal authorities, who also seized thousands of marijuana plants.
Augustine Bazan Camacho, 41, of Pomona; Ken Ho, 33, of Arcadia; Raymond Lam, 42, of Arcadia; Simon Lam, 32, of Arcadia; Steven Huytu Lam, 52, of Walnut; Luc Kai Phoung, 50, of Rosemead; Thanh Van Phu, 33, of El Monte; Li Ya Si, 42, of Temple City; Phieu Tran, 35, of El Monte; and San S. Voong, 33, of Arcadia were taken into custody without incident, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
According to federal prosecutors, the defendants and another man still at large -- Andy Tran, 39, of Monterey Park -- ran a multi-city marijuana growing operation that at its peak saw the cultivation of more than 15,000 marijuana plants in 15 houses that were converted into indoor pot farms.
Personnel with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Riverside County Sheriff's Department, the IRS, U.S. Marshals Service, Los Angeles Police Department and other agencies took part in today's raids.
Prosecutors allege Raymond Lam was the ring leader, with the other defendants performing various roles, including plant tenders, technicians and enforcers. Lam was generally the one signing the leases or making outright purchases of single-family homes used by the organization, according to court papers.
The marijuana grows all relied on hydroponic equipment and electricity that was illegally acquired through sophisticated wiring that bypassed utility meters, prosecutors said.
The search warrants executed today targeted 26 locations in Arcadia, Chino, Corona, Diamond Bar, Eastvale, El Monte, Fontana, Los Angeles, Monterey Park, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, Temple City and Walnut.
Authorities seized 8,000 marijuana plants, seven firearms and more than $250,000 cash, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
In previous raids over the last two years tied to the same investigation, law enforcement personnel seized 15,000 cannabis plants and 1,000 pounds of harvested weed, prosecutors said.
The conspirators each face life, or a minimum of 10 years, behind bars if convicted.
They're slated to make their initial court appearances this afternoon at U.S. District Court in downtown Riverside.
Copyright 2013 City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.