A Walnut man was among 10 suspects federal and state authorities arrested and charged today during a bust of marijuana grow house across Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.
The Drug Enforcement Administration investigation lead to the arrest of 10 out of 11 named in the complaint and executed search warrants at 26 locations – including 15 grow houses from Arcadia to Corona to Fontana, according to a Department of Justice news release.
One of the 10 arrested was Steven Huytu Lam, 52, of Walnut.
Others arrested include the following:
- Raymond A. Lam, who also used the name “Nam A. Lam,” 42, of Arcadia, accused of being the overall leader of the drug trafficking organization and overseeing the acquisition of residences that were converted into full-scale, industrial-type marijuana grows;
- Simon Lam, 32, of Arcadia, who was allegedly a top lieutenant to Raymond Lam;
- Ken Ho, known as “Ken Lam,” 33, of Arcadia, also suspected to be a top lieutenant to Raymond Lam;
- San S. Voong, also known as “Chen Sheng Wang,” 35, of Arcadia, another suspected top lieutenant to Raymond Lam;
- Phieu Tran, 35, of El Monte;
- Augustine Bazan Camacho, 41, of Pomona, allegedly a veteran “plant tender” who was responsible for maintaining many of the grow houses;
- Thanh Van Phu, 33, of El Monte;
- Luc Kai Phoung, who is also known as “Wong Fong,” “Al Fong “ and “Na Na,” 50, of Rosemead, who allegedly built the electrical and utility meter by-pass systems used at the grow houses;
- Li Ya Si, 42, of Temple City.
The 11th defendant, Andy Tran, a 39-year-old Monterey Park resident also known as “Long Kim Tank,” remains at large and is being sought by authorities, officials said.
All of the defendants named in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Riverside are charged with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.
During today’s bust, investigators seized more than $250,000, seven guns, including an assault rifle, and more than 8,000 marijuana plants, according to authorities.
In a 124-page affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, investigators outlined how the narcotics trafficking ring allegedly worked. The organization purchased or leased single-family homes, which operators then reportedly converted into indoor marijuana farms, authorities said.
Each house included an industrial-size marijuana grow with an average of 1,000 to 2,000 marijuana plants. The operation also reportedly relied on stolen electricity. The marijuana harvested was sold throughout California and across the United States, authorities said.
The defendants are expected to appear in federal court today in Riverside.
The criminal complaint lists several recent seizures made during the investigation, including two in Eastvale and one in Riverside.
Today, authorities executed search warrants in Diamond Bar, Walnut, Chino, Eastvale, Corona, Fontana, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga, El Monte, Arcadia, Los Angeles, Monterey Park and Temple City.
The narcotics conspiracy charge in the indictment comes with a statutory maximum penalty of life, a mandatory minimum of 10 years, in federal prison.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department conducted to investigation.
Agencies that provided help during today’s arrests included the Riverside Police Department; the El Monte Police Department; the Fontana Police Department; the Chino Police Department; IRS - Criminal Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; the United States Marshals Service; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Los Angeles Police Department; and the Arcadia Police Department.