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HomeBusinessU.S. charges laid in transnational drug operation based in Vancouver

U.S. charges laid in transnational drug operation based in Vancouver

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Bob Mackin

United States authorities say they arrested 13 people on Sept. 5 accused in a transnational cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine operation run out of Vancouver.

(City of Vancouver)

Two key defendants among the 30 named in the unsealed grand jury documents are connected to Vancouver: Tenny Guon Lim (aka “The Goat,” “Max Power,” “Wild,” “Bruce” and “Phil”) and Vincent Yen Tek Chiu (whose nicknames include “El Chino,” “Tiger,” and “Auctioned”).

In a news release, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles said the operation also included Australia, Mexico and Southern California and involved members of Canadian, Mexican, Serbian, Chinese, and Sudanese gangs, some of whom used coded language and military-grade, end-to-end encrypted devices to communicate. Police seized nearly 1,000 pounds of cocaine, nine kilograms of heroin, 46 kg of methamphetamine and 46 kg of ecstasy, as well as more than $800,000 in Canadian cash.

Authorities allege in one of the grand jury indictments that the 1980-born Lim was one of three who arranged to buy and transport bulk cocaine and methamphetamine from the U.S. for importation to Canada and other locations for re-sale, in exchange for ecstasy or cash.

The indictment said that on June 2, 2017, Lim used coded language in a series of text messages that defendant Saysana Luangkhamdeng would leave Vancouver to deliver ecstasy and pick up cocaine in Long Beach, Calif. Luangkhamdeng tried crossing the U.S.-Canada border at Blaine, Wash. with 24.2 kilograms of ecstasy in his vehicle. Documents from a separate case indicate he was arrested in a 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe allegedly en route to see the Toronto Blue Jays play the Mariners in Seattle.

Lim had been arrested in the Canada Border Services Agency’s largest Pacific region drug bust in May 2014 — a 35 kg haul of heroin from Laos that had been shipped to Vancouver. Lim pleaded guilty to possession for the purpose of trafficking and was sentenced to eight years in jail earlier this year. His co-conspirator, Randy Norman Per, was a corrupt Air Canada employee.

The 1978-born Chiu allegedly arranged bulk purchases of cocaine in the U.S. for importation into Canada for resale in exchange for cash or bulk ecstasy.

In January 2018, he allegedly arranged to meet someone that he thought was a money courier, but was actually an undercover agent, in Langley about a 50 kg cocaine delivery deal. The next day, the indictment says, Chiu agreed to provide $963,000 for the drugs. There were also meetings in Burnaby on Feb. 1 of that year, when a co-conspirator, acting on Chiu’s behalf, gave an undercover agent almost $100,000 down payment for the cocaine. The indictment says he later offered to pay almost $1.4 million for 55 kg.

The Chiu indictment also says that a defendant named Orange Tang told an undercover agent that defendant Dario Baruca was his “partner” who operated the drug trafficking business in Vancouver.

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