A man who conspired to distribute mass quantities of marijuana on the Western Slope has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Long “Peter” Luong, was sentenced for conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana and 1,000 plants or more.
Luong was also ordered to serve five years on supervised release and pay a $30,000 fine.
According to court documents, including the stipulated facts in Luong’s plea agreement, on Sept. 18, 2016, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration were informed of a large outdoor marijuana grow operation in Rifle.
Agents confirmed the existence of this grow and began surveillance. The grow was located on property owned by co-defendant Heung Yu Wong. The next day, agents observed numerous individuals harvesting marijuana plants and loading them into a large truck.
Shortly thereafter, agents observed many of these individuals attempting to flee from the grow operation. Agents detained a number of the individuals, including the defendant and his wife, co-defendant Guoying Tang.
Following the execution of a search warrant at the location, agents discovered 2,420 large, mature marijuana plants.
The defendant conspired with the co-defendants, and others, to cultivate and harvest this marijuana for illegal distribution, the USAO’s news release says.
Despite the prior warrant, on Sept. 20, 2017, the defendant again conspired with his wife and others to cultivate and harvest a large field of marijuana in southwestern Colorado.
Luong, while supervising at least five others, harvested this field and loaded it onto two large trucks. On Sept.23, 2017, one of the two trucks was intercepted by law enforcement and discovered to contain a significant quantity of freshly harvested marijuana that would result in at least 50 kilograms of usable marijuana.
This truck was destined for a warehouse located in Grand Junction, where Luong and others supervised the cultivation of an additional 1,034 marijuana plants and the processing of marijuana for later distribution.
As part of the investigation, a search warrant was also executed at the defendant’s home in Grand Junction, Colorado, which he shared with his wife. Inside the defendant’s home, agents discovered a marijuana grow containing 179 marijuana plants. Also located in the home, hidden in a clothes hamper in the master bedroom, agents discovered a Beretta 9 mm handgun. This handgun belonged to the defendant.
Luong and the two co-defendants were indicted on Feb.27, 2018. Luong pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Gordon Gallagher on May 21. He was sentenced on Sept. 30.
“The cultivation of marijuana for the black market is an issue this office and our law enforcement partners continue to aggressively pursue,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “The defendant will now face the consequences of growing and distributing this illegal product.”
“The DEA is committed to protecting our communities by working alongside our state and local law enforcement partners to identify and target the most significant threats to the public safety,” said Acting DEA Special Agent in Charge Deanne Reuter.
“Long Luong ran a massive illegal marijuana grow operation that flagrantly and grossly violated both federal and state law. The DEA will continue to target these large illegal grow operations that seek profit over the public well-being.”