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Minnesota man sentenced to 10 years for conspiracy to distribute cocaine

MINNEAPOLIS - A local man was sentenced to 10 years in federal court for conspiring to distribute at least 15 kilograms of cocaine in Minnesota. This sentence follows an investigation led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

In his plea agreement, Phi Tran, 25, admitted that from April through November 2009 he conspired with others to distribute at least 15 kilograms but less than 50 kilograms of cocaine. During the spring and summer of 2009, Tran traveled from Minneapolis to Florida to meet with undercover ICE-HSI agents who posed as drug traffickers. While there, he asked them to deliver cocaine on behalf of his associates.

In September 2009, Tran then met with the ICE-HSI undercover agents in Minnesota and told them his associates were ready to receive a shipment of 40 kilograms of cocaine in Canada. As a result, $118,815.27 was wired to the Florida agents to cover the shipment. Later, however, the agents falsely advised Tran that the shipment had been intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities at the border.

Nonetheless, Tran continued to negotiate with the undercover agents on behalf of his partners. As a result, a deal was struck to deliver 30 kilograms of cocaine in exchange for the equivalent of $550,000 in U.S. currency. The exchange was to occur on Nov. 17, 2009, in the parking lot of the Kohl's Department Store in Rogers, Minn.

Before the meeting, the undercover ICE-HSI agents filled a suitcase with 30 plastic-wrapped bricks of a substance that looked like cocaine but was actually crushed sheet rock. The suitcase then was placed in a black Ford Explorer, which was left unlocked in the parking lot. When Tran arrived on the scene, he drove directly to the Explorer and parked next to it. Then, he got out of his car, opened the rear hatch of the Explorer, took the suitcase, and replaced it with a duffle bag of money. Authorities immediately closed in and arrested him.

For more information, visit www.ice.gov.