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12 arrested in Ecstasy ring arraigned

August 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A dozen people were arraigned Monday on charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute Ecstasy. The defendants were arrested last month in one of the largest federal raids of Ecstasy in U.S. history.Fifteen defendants are named in the federal indictment. Twelve were arraigned Monday morning, including alleged kingpin Jimmy Luong of Monterey Park.

Another suspect, Tuan Vu, is on the run.

An estimated $18 million worth of Ecstasy tablets were seized, and Eyewitness News was on scene to get exclusive video of the arrests.

The drug ring was allegedly an organized crime network. According to the indictment, there were 15 people from various gangs who allegedly conspired to deal Ecstasy in the Southland.

Ecstasy is a stimulant and also causes hallucinations. It is peddled in an array of colors to appeal to young people.

During the investigation, two of the suspects were trailed to the Electric Daisy Carnival rave at the Coliseum in June. It is where dozens of young people suffered overdoses. Sasha Rodriguez, 15, died from a suspected Ecstasy overdose.

The investigation was carried out by the Drug Enforcement Agency and a multi-agency taskforce, with the Beverly Hills Police Department providing key resources.

Investigators went on to seize more than 1 million tablets, 33 kilos of cocaine and 21 weapons, including assault rifles. They also seized $500,000 in cash.

"The seizure itself is one of the largest ever federally conducted, in terms of a single seizure," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mack Jenkins. "The total amount of the conspiracy is one of the largest ever in the country."

Luong, 29, was named as the alleged coordinator. The drug ring operated in the San Gabriel Valley, with "stash houses" in the cities of Industry and Arcadia.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Mack Jenkins, investigators were stunned at the amount of pills they uncovered.

"About 1.3 million [pills]," said Jenkins. Street value? "It's over $18 million. A lot of money."

The defendants were arraigned in a federal court in downtown L.A. Monday. The drug trafficking charge alleged in the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison or up to 30 years in prison for defendants who have a prior felony drug conviction.


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