Sentencing of participants in major marijuana trafficking operation

Homeland Security Investigations informed Historic City News today of the disruption of a major marijuana trafficking operation, connecting suppliers in California with a distribution network in Northeast Florida.  The operation in Jacksonville supplied St Johns County and others in the area.

Six key individuals, who previously pled guilty to being involved in the illegal activity, have been sentenced by US District Judge Marcia Morales Howard.  She has also sentenced four of the defendants on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

  • Bao The Khuong (47, San Jose, CA) was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison
  • Hai Phi Tran (28, Jacksonville) was sentenced to 3 years in federal prison
  • Tantai Vo (30, Jacksonville) was sentenced to 26 months in federal prison
  • Phuc Nguyen Hoang (28, Jacksonville) was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison
  • Ray Thomas Balintucas (31, Jacksonville) was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison
  • Hoi Nguyen (38, Orlando) was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison

Additionally, Tantai Vo was sentenced for the unlawful possession of a firearm and was ordered to forfeit his firearm and ammunition. Khuong was also ordered to forfeit at least $1 million in proceeds, and Tran was ordered to forfeit assets of up to $500,000, all of which are traceable proceeds of the illegal enterprise.

According to court documents, beginning as early as April 2014, Khuong served as the source of supply for marijuana from California to Jacksonville. He received approximately $30,000 from Tran, and Tran’s associates in Jacksonville, several times a week for at least 18 months.

Hoang assisted Khuong and Tran in moving marijuana and marijuana proceeds between California and Jacksonville, and with packaging marijuana in California for shipment to Tran in Jacksonville. Khuong also supplied Vo with marijuana from California, which he sent to Vo in Jacksonville.

Nguyen served as a secondary source of supply of marijuana to Vo. Vo sold at least 700 pounds of marijuana to Balintucas during the course of the conspiracy. At the time of Vo’s arrest, he was delivering 4 pounds of marijuana to Balintucas, and was carrying a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol.

“Dismantling this organization is a big win for the people of Northern Florida,” stated Special Agent in Charge Mary Hammond of IRS Criminal Investigation’s Tampa Field Office. “This case took drugs, guns, and dirty money off our streets and out of the hands of criminals. We take our commitment to fighting narcotics and related financial crimes seriously, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to track down and prosecute offenders.”

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kelly S. Karase and Bonnie Glober.