Four Men Charged with Allegedly Running Drug Trafficking Ring that Shipped Wholesale Amounts of Narcotics to Indo-Pacific Region

packets of instant noodles and mushroom seasoning sent to Australia in 2018 included 860 pounds of meth. DOJ

LOS ANGELES Two Orange County men have been arrested on a three-count federal grand jury indictment alleging they ran a transnational drug trafficking organization that exported wholesale amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine – concealed within commercial products such as instant noodle packets, car parts, emergency kits, and subwoofers – to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand, the Justice Department announced today.

          Hoang Xuan Le, 42, a.k.a. “Big Bro,” “Blue,” and “Knockout,” of Tustin, and Tri Cao Buinguyen, 38, a.k.a. “Bro” and “Mango,” of Garden Grove, were arrested Thursday. They are scheduled for arraignment this afternoon at United States District Court in Los Angeles.

          In total, four defendants – including Trung Buinguyen, 40, of Lakewood, and Narongsak Champy, 28, of Long Beach – have been charged with one count of conspiracy to export controlled substances and one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Le and Tri Buinguyen are charged with one additional count of distribution of methamphetamine.

          Trung Buinguyen and Champy are being sought by law enforcement.

          As part of this case, law enforcement seized a total of 755 kilograms (1,664 pounds) of methamphetamine and more than 100 kilograms of cocaine. Law enforcement estimates that the value of the drugs seized exceeds $65 million and ranges up to $160 million.

The suspects allegedly concealed hundreds of pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine in subwoofers. DOJ

          According to the indictment, from at least February 2017 to September 2022, Le and Tri Buinguyen communicated with members of the drug trafficking organization in Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. They then arranged for the export of bulk quantities of drugs from the United States to these nations via air cargo, ocean freight, and the U.S. mail, concealing the drugs in a variety of commercial products and falsifying their true nature on the manifests and customs documents.

          The defendants allegedly used phones equipped with military-grade encryption software and encrypted messaging applications, particularly “Signal,” to coordinate the export of drugs from the United States. They also allegedly used fictitious names, businesses, and email accounts to communicate with intermediaries, including vendors, freight forwarders, shipping companies, customs brokers, and customs officials in the United States and foreign countries, to fraudulently disguise the drugs as legitimate commercial products.

The suspects allegedly concealed hundreds of pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine in meals ready-to-eat packets. DOJ

          For example, Le and Tri Buinguyen allegedly directed the summer 2018 shipment to Australia of 390 kilograms (860 pounds) of methamphetamine concealed in packets of instant noodles and mushroom seasoning, as well as the September 2018 export of 113 kilograms (249 pounds) of methamphetamine and 100 kilograms (over 220 pounds) of cocaine disguised as garlic seasoning. Additional shipments of drugs in October 2018, November 2019, February 2020, and August 2020 were allegedly concealed in emergency kits, car parts, subwoofers, and customized metal boxes.

          In June 2021, Le and Tri Buinguyen orchestrated a bulk shipment of 150 kilograms (over 330 pounds) of methamphetamine concealed in food storage buckets for export to Papua New Guinea, according to the indictment. Finally, in August and September of 2022, Tri Buinguyen allegedly arranged for the export to New Zealand of 32 kilograms (more than 70 pounds) of methamphetamine concealed in meals ready-to-eat packets.

          An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

          If convicted of all charges, each defendant would face a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison.

Homeland Security Investigations is investigating this matter. The following agencies have provided substantial assistance to this investigation: United States Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Customs and Border Protection, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Border Force, the Australian Department of Homeland Affairs – Intelligence Division, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, the Papua New Guinea Customs Service, and the New Zealand Customs Service.

          This case is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and HSI. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply. OCDETF uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

          Assistant United States Attorney Gregg E. Marmaro of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section is prosecuting this case.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here