University Place man pleads guilty after trying to hire undercover federal agents as hitmen in Vietnam

Staff writerSeptember 12, 2013 

A University Place man pleaded guilty Thursday to trying to hire overseas assassins to kill his nephew and six others in Vietnam, after he accidentally solicited undercover federal agents for the job.

Long Van Nguyen, 45, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to kill persons in a foreign country and solicitation to commit a crime of violence.

Nguyen, who once ran a pot-smuggling ring that brought in millions, wanted to have his nephew killed in March 2012 when the relative allegedly spent $100,000 Nguyen sent him; He said he told the nephew to only spend the interest the funds made.

Nguyen unknowingly solicited an undercover Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent for the hit, who told him he had people in Vietnam who could carry out the killings.

The plan was for the nephew to show the assassins who his uncle wanted dead. Once Nguyen had chosen and identified his victims, he said he wanted the nephew killed too.

A police officer in Vietnam and an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation posed as the assassins.

Nguyen paid the policeman extra to add four more people to the hit list, and gave the Homeland Security agent photos of them.

Among the seven that he agreed to pay a total of tens of thousands of dollars to have killed were a noodle shop worker and a woman that lived with his relatives.

Court records don’t specify why the people were targets, besides the nephew.

Authorities arrested Nguyen in July 2012, and have kept him in custody since.

Prosecutors agreed to ask for a maximum of 14 years in prison when he’s sentenced Jan. 10, though that’s up to the judge’s discretion.

His conspiracy to kill conviction alone is punishable by up to life in prison.

Nguyen was convicted in 2005 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 gather millions in cash as well as other assets.

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.

An attorney for Nguyen did not immediately return a call from The News Tribune.

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