UNITED STATES NEWS

California men charged with running drugs to Australia, New Zealand disguised as car parts, noodles

Dec 15, 2023, 5:13 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Four California men have been charged with running a drug ring that sent hundreds of pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea disguised as shipments of everything from car parts to instant noodles, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

Hoang Xuan Le, 42, of Tustin and Tri Cao Buinguyen, 38, of Garden Grove were arrested Thursday and pleaded not guilty on Friday, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Trung Buinguyen, 40, of Lakewood and Narongsak Champy, 28, of Long Beach are fugitives, prosecutors said.

All are charged with conspiracy to export and distribute controlled substances while Le and Tri Buinguyen also are charged with distributing methamphatamine.

They could face up to life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors contend that from at least 2017 to last year, the men shipped drugs overseas by air, sea and the U.S. Mail. The drugs were hidden in “commercial products such as instant noodle packets, car parts, emergency kits, and subwoofers,” said a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

In 2018, for example, the ring shipped 113 kilograms (249 pounds) of methamphetamine and 100 kilograms (more than 220 pounds) of cocaine disguised as garlic seasoning, prosecutors said.

Investigators eventually seized 755 kilograms (1,664 pounds) of methamphetamine and more than 100 kilograms (more than 220 pounds) of cocaine valued at more than $65 million, the U.S. attorney’s office statement said.

United States News

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California men charged with running drugs to Australia, New Zealand disguised as car parts, noodles