Charges laid after drugs disguised as instant noodles shipped to NZ

By and is republished with permission.

Four California men have been charged with running a drug ring that sent hundreds of kilos of cocaine and methamphetamine to New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea disguised as shipments of everything from car parts to instant noodles, federal prosecutors announced.

Hoang Xuan Le, 42, of Tustin and Tri Cao Buinguyen, 38, of Garden Grove were arrested yesterday and pleaded not guilty the following day, according to the US attorney’s office.

Trung Buinguyen, 40, of Lakewood and Narongsak Champy, 28, of Long Beach are fugitives, prosecutors said.

All are charged with conspiracy to export and distribute controlled substances, while Le and Tri Buinguyen also are charged with distributing methamphetamine.

They could face up to life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors contend that from at least 2017 to last year, the men shipped drugs overseas by air, sea and the US Mail. The drugs were hidden in “commercial products such as instant noodle packets, car parts, emergency kits, and subwoofers,” said a statement from the US attorney’s office.

In 2018, for example, the ring shipped 113 kilograms of methamphetamine and 100 kilograms of cocaine disguised as garlic seasoning, prosecutors said.

Investigators eventually seized 755 kilograms of methamphetamine and more than 100 kilograms of cocaine valued at more than NZD $104 million, the US attorney’s office statement said.

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