Five Busted In National Drug-Trafficking Ring

Five Central Valley people have been named in a national conspiracy to manufacture and distribute millions of dollars worth of marijuana, the US Attorney's Office announced on Tuesday.

Chan Coong Lay, 42 of Fresno; Tom Techakaew, 56, of Fresno; Hly Lena Yang, 39 of Porterville; Bee Sychou Cha, 53 of Porterville; and Xiong Moua, 29, of Fresno are among 37 connected to a Southeast Asian marijuana and counterfeit cigarette trafficking organization.

Prosecutors allege members of the ring conspired to produce and distribute more than $45 million worth of marijuana and illegally distribute nearly 44 million cigarettes, resulting in more than $7 million in lost tax revenue, the US Attorney's Office said.

Lay, Techakaew, Yang and Cha were arrested Tuesday morning by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Moua was already in state custody on related charges.

Law enforcement officials on Tuesday morning seized more than 200 pounds of marijuana and nearly 185 live plants weighing more than 3,900 pounds.

Officials said marijuana was grown in the Central Valley and the shipped along with contraband cigarettes by tractor trailer from Southern California to locations throughout the U.S. using a Los Angeles-area trucking company.