Between August 2015 and January, 1,061 packages containing marijuana were sent via the U.S. Postal Service from California to individuals in Rochester involved in a vast conspiracy, authorities allege.
The United States Attorney’s Office announced Friday that 12 people involved in the alleged conspiracy were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with distributing more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.
The charge carries a minimum of five years in federal prison, a maximum of 40 years, and a $5 million fine.
The following people were charged earlier this week:
•Phoumano Duangtavilay, 50;
•Khonesavanh Vongxay, 62;
•Kongchay Kongthong, 50;
•Manivone Phommaviseth, 56;
•James Vongxay, 20;
•Chandy Vongxay, 29;
•Keith Surivan, 40;
•Phetnalay Douangtavilay, 47;
•Phou Daoreuang, 33;
•Danisha Floyd, 26;
•Jerimiah Torres, 20; and
•Kongdeuane Vongxay, 39.
Since 2014, Phoumano Duangtavilay and Khonesavanh Vongxay oversaw a marijuana distribution organization in Rochester, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean C. Eldridge. The other 10 co-defendants are accused of “distributing marijuana in the Rochester area and in obtaining money orders through structured purchases to evade reporting requirements and to conceal the proceeds of their marijuana sales,” Eldridge said in a release.
Marijuana was obtained in California and shipped to various locations in Rochester for distribution. Money orders were sent back to California as payment.
Authorities executed search warrants at nine locations in Rochester and on some packages that “were subsequently found to contain marijuana or money orders,” Eldredge said.
Investigators seized over 130 pounds of marijuana, over $180,000 in money orders, and four vehicles used to distribute the marijuana. Authorities said over 1,000 packages were sent from California to Rochester to individuals and addresses associated with the organization.
“This drug organization, like others we are seeing with increasing frequency, sought to flood the market through a steady drip, drip, drip of relatively small packages of drugs being shipped into our community,” U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. said in a release. “Today, that spigot finally got turned off. Whether its marijuana or deadly fentanyl, this office, together with our partners in law enforcement will do all that we can to stem the flow of illegal substances into our area.”
Ten of the 12 defendants made an initial appearance in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan W. Feldman.
Duangtavilay is being held while the other nine defendants were released on conditions. Vongxay and Surivan were arrested in the Atlanta area and will be returned to Rochester.
“The suppliers of illegal drugs are exploiting every channel they can to infiltrate our communities,” New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said in a release. “By using our Postal Service, these defendants were able to ship drugs to our state and then distribute on our streets.”