Two King County brothers were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma for their roles in a marijuana production and distribution conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. Loc Dinh Nguyen, 43, of Renton, Wash., was sentenced to five years in prison, five years of supervised release and $63,522 in restitution to Puget Sound Energy for stolen electricity at his marijuana grows. Luan Dinh Nguyen, 44, of Seattle, was sentenced to three years in prison, five years of supervised release and $101,723 in restitution to Puget Sound Energy – again for stolen electricity. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton remarked that this is a serious offense, stating, “We need to send a message to illegal growers and distributors of marijuana that there is a price to be paid.”
The Nguyen brothers were arrested in March 2011, following an investigation of a criminal conspiracy involved in marijuana production. Members of the conspiracy operated Seapac Gardening Equipment, in Fife, Washington. The company supplied equipment and other supplies to manufacture marijuana. As early as 2008, Loc Nguyen grew marijuana in a hidden crawl space at his home in Renton. When law enforcement searched the home Nguyen shared with his wife and young children, they found a loaded firearm next to the bed in the master bedroom. Nguyen admits the weapon was to guard the house and the marijuana grow. Police also found cash and 595 marijuana plants. Loc Nguyen pleaded guilty in October 2011 to Manufacture of Marijuana, and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking.
Luan Dinh Nguyen, oversaw daily operations at Seapac and transported equipment and supplies from Seapac to the grows. Luan Nguyen, allowed his identity to be used to purchase a property for a marijuana grow. This and other homes were eventually foreclosed upon by the banks when the mortgages went unpaid. In October 2011 Luan Nguyen, Nguyen pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Manufacture and Distribute Marijuana. Nguyen agreed to pay restitution for the electricity stolen at three marijuana grow houses in Renton.
In asking for the five year mandatory minimum sentence, prosecutors noted the danger Loc Nguyen created for his family with the marijuana grow. “By possessing a loaded firearm in furtherance of his marijuana grow, and by storing it so carelessly and irresponsibly, Loc Dinh Nguyen created a serious risk that someone, perhaps even his own minor children, would be shot,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the Auburn Police Department and the Washington State Patrol (WSP).
*Editor's Note: This is a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.