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L.A. drug ring processed 1 million Ecstasy pills, authorities say

August 5, 2010 |  1:49 pm

A federal grand jury has indicted 15 men in connection with a drug trafficking ring that authorities say manufactured or distributed more than 1 million Ecstasy pills across Southern California, according to documents released Thursday.

Federal officials allege that 29-year-old Jimmy Luong of Monterey Park was the kingpin of the organization based in the city of Industry, which produced the psychotropic pills at a laboratory and then shipped the drugs through a network of various dealers. Authorities said the pills had a street value of $17 million.

The charges come weeks after a teenage girl died from a suspected drug overdose after attending a rave at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Her family has said doctors told them she had Ecstasy in her system when she arrived at the emergency room.

"This is one of the largest organizations of its kind that we have been able to dismantle," said Sarah Pullen, a spokeswoman with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's Los Angeles office.

In addition to Luong, those indicted include Tony Barerra Jr., 37, of West Covina; El Monte residents Toan Hoang, 33, Lok Lim, 33, and Christopher Ammen, 21, as well as David Luu, 21, of Monterey Park. Also charged were Joseph Yao, 26, of Temple City; John Underwood, 42, of La Mirada; Jesse Roman, 24, of Los Angeles; Michael Duong, 27, of Rosemead; David Kong, 22, of Los Angeles; Sam Ha, 31, of El Monte; Duy Nguyen, 22, of Fountain Valley; and Long Nguyen, 22, of Santa Ana.

Officials said the defendants were involved in manufacturing or distribution of the drugs, or both. Investigators with the Beverly Hills Police Department assisted the DEA in its investigation.

Investigators on the case said that during the first seven months of 2010, they seized at least 1.1 million Ecstasy tablets as well as 33 kilograms of cocaine, about $500,000 in cash and 21 guns, including assault rifles and stolen firearms with hollow-point ammunition, authorities said.

Officials said that they also seized approximately 510,000 Ecstasy, or MDMA, tablets from a storage facility in Arcadia and 200,000 tablets from another location. It was that location where Luong and his associates were arrested last month, officials said.

-- Andrew Blankstein