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Ringleader of international drug trafficking conspiracy sentenced to 20 years

ICE worked with law enforcement on both sides of the northern border to stop organization

PHILADELPHIA - A drug smuggler was sentenced Oct. 1 to 20 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to importing and distributing ecstasy and methamphetamine, and distributing marijuana. This investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Son Ngo, 53, of Egg Harbor, N.J., pleaded guilty on Oct. 9, 2008 to drug smuggling charges. Ngo admitted that he imported about 45 kilograms (100 pounds) of ecstasy, or about 200,000 pills.

"This significant sentence sends a strong message that you cannot distribute narcotics in our country and go unnoticed," said Andrew M. McLees, acting special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Philadelphia. "We aggressively work with our law enforcement partners to keep drugs out of our communities, and to dismantle the criminal networks that profit."

Ngo was the head of an international Asian drug trafficking organization based in Philadelphia which purchased large amounts of illegal drugs from suppliers in Canada. The drugs were manufactured in Canada and delivered to Philadelphia, a major transshipment point. From Philadelphia, the drugs were then distributed throughout the eastern seaboard. In 2007, ICE conducted an investigation which culminated in seizing a shipment of more than 100,000 ecstasy pills.

In addition, Ngo also purchased large amounts of marijuana from a network of marijuana-grow facilities located across Pennsylvania. In September 2007, law enforcement agents throughout the state executed simultaneous search warrants at five marijuana-grow facilities. They seized hundreds of marijuana plants, several firearms, and tens of thousands of dollars worth of marijuana-grow equipment. As a result of this investigation, more than a dozen of Ngo's drug trafficking associates were also convicted.

For the past several years, ICE has been working closely with various law enforcement agencies, including: the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Department of Justice's Organized Crime & Racketeering Section, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), state and local police, and other Canadian agencies. Together, they cracked down on Asian organized crime groups that control a large portion of the U.S.-Canada illegal drug smuggling trade.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Lloret with assistance from Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Livermore of the U.S. Department of Justice's Organized Crime and Racketeering Section.

During this investigation, ICE special agents also worked with the following agencies: the Philadelphia Police Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Lower Heidelburg Police Department, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police Department, Canada Border Services Agency, the Peel Regional Police Department, and the Toronto Metropolitan Police Department. Without the combined efforts of law enforcement agencies on both side of the border, successful prosecutions in these cases would not be possible.