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09/12/2013

Washington man admits to international murder-for-hire plot foiled by HSI

SEATTLE — A Washington state man pleaded guilty Thursday to federal conspiracy and solicitation charges in connection with his plot to hire an assassin to murder several people, including a family member in Vietnam.

Long Van Nguyen, 45, of University Place, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kill persons in a foreign country and solicitation to commit a crime of violence. Nguyen's plot began to unravel when he was put into contact with someone he believed could help him arrange the Vietnam murders. That person was an undercover special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to court records, in early March 2012, Nguyen told the undercover HSI special agent he needed help arranging the murders and that his nephew in Vietnam would assist in identifying the targets for the agent's overseas hit men, who were undercover officers with Vietnam's Ministry of Public Safety. What the nephew did not know is that he was also a target. Nguyen had sent $100,000 to the nephew with instructions he only spend the interest earned on the money. Nguyen was angered when he learned the nephew disobeyed his instructions and spent nearly half the money. After the nephew pointed out the targets, Nguyen told U.S. undercover agents the nephew had served his purpose and he wanted him killed too. In total, Nguyen hired the undercover HSI special agent to kill seven people in Vietnam, agreeing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for the executions. He paid an advance sum and made it clear he would not pay for attempted assassinations that left people injured. He would only pay if the targets were actually killed.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors are recommending a sentence of 14 years in prison; however the judge is not bound by the recommendation. Nguyen is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 14, 2014, by U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik. Conspiracy to kill persons in a foreign country is punishable by up to life in prison and solicitation to commit a crime of violence is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The case was investigated by HSI Seattle with assistance from HSI Vietnam, the FBI and the Vietnam Ministry of Public Safety. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington is prosecuting.