A Pierce County man who once ran a lucrative marijuana-smuggling ring now faces charges of trying to hire assassins to kill seven people in Vietnam.
Federal prosecutors allege in court documents filed this month that there is probable cause to believe Tacoma-area resident Long Van Nguyen committed the crimes of conspiracy to kill persons in a foreign country and solicitation to commit a crime of violence.
Agents arrested Nguyen on July 9 after a four-month undercover investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, court records show.
Nguyen, who is in his mid-40s, is being held in federal custody pending the resolution of his case.
Federal agents began investigating Nguyen in March after receiving word he was interested in hiring someone to kill his nephew and other people, including a man he described as a business associate, the records show.
“I want him to be finished, not hurt or injured,” Nguyen allegedly told an undercover agent posing as a hit man.
Nguyen apparently was angry at his nephew for spending money he was supposed to be squirreling away in a bank account for Nguyen. It was unclear from the court documents why he wanted the other people killed.
The undercover agent posing as an assassin negotiated several killings with Nguyen, who was willing to pay as much as $7,000 per murder, documents show. Nguyen also allegedly asked the agent if he would be willing to maim people.
Government agents in Vietnam assisted with the investigation.
In 2005, Nguyen was convicted of conspiracy to import and distribute marijuana and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. Federal agents said he led a sophisticated smuggling operation that brought marijuana from Canada into the United States, where it was distributed up and down the West Coast.
The enterprise allowed Nguyen and another man “to amass numerous pieces of real estate, expensive vehicles and millions of dollars in cash as well as funnel hundreds of kilograms of marijuana into the United States,” court records show.
Nguyen served five years in federal prison and was under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office at the time of his latest arrest.
Efforts to reach his attorney for comment were unsuccessful.