4 Southern California Men Charged After Drugs Hidden in Instant Noodle Packets

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4 Southern California Men Charged After Drugs Hidden in Instant Noodle Packets

A cup of instant noodles is pictured in Tokyo, Japan, on September 11, 2015. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service

12/16/2023

Updated: 12/16/2023

LOS ANGELES—Four Southland men are facing federal charges for allegedly operating a transnational drug trafficking organization that exported wholesale amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine hidden within instant noodle packets, car parts, emergency kits, and subwoofers to Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, officials announced Dec. 15.
Hoang Xuan Le, 42, of Tustin, and Tri Cao Buinguyen, 38, of Garden Grove, were arrested Thursday. They are scheduled for arraignment Friday in Los Angeles federal court.
Trung Buinguyen, 40, of Lakewood, and Narongsak Champy, 28, of Long Beach, along with Mr. Le and Tri Buinguyen, have been charged with one count of conspiracy to export controlled substances and one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Mr. Le and Tri Buinguyen are charged with one additional count of distribution of methamphetamine, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Trung Buinguyen and Mr. Champy are being sought by law enforcement.
As part of this case, law enforcement seized a total of 1,664 pounds of methamphetamine and more than 220 pounds of cocaine, prosecutors allege. Law enforcement estimates the value of the drugs seized exceeds $65 million and ranges up to $160 million.
According to the indictment, from at least February 2017 to September 2022, Mr. Le and Tri Buinguyen communicated with members of the drug trafficking organization in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. They then arranged for the export of bulk quantities of drugs from the United States to these nations via air cargo, ocean freight and the U.S. mail, concealing the drugs in a variety of commercial products and falsifying their true nature on the manifests and customs documents, the indictment alleges.
The drugs were allegedly disguised as legitimate commercial products. For example, Mr. Le and Tri Buinguyen allegedly directed the summer 2018 shipment to Australia of 860 pounds of methamphetamine concealed in packets of instant noodles and mushroom seasoning, as well as the September 2018 export of 249 pounds of methamphetamine and more than 220 pounds of cocaine disguised as garlic seasoning. Additional shipments of drugs were allegedly concealed in emergency kits, car parts, subwoofers and customized metal boxes, the DOJ said.
If convicted of all charges, each defendant would face sentences of up to life in federal prison, prosecutors noted.
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