NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA –U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that MICHAEL KWAN, age 34, of Westwego, was sentenced Tuesday, December 18, 2018 to 70 months in prison.
On March 20, 2018, KWAN pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and conspiring to launder his drug trafficking proceeds. According to court documents, drug traffickers in California were shipping KWAN marijuana in 55-gallon drums, and Louisiana State Police seized a shipment with 12 drums, containing 420 pounds of marijuana. KWAN’s warehouse in Westwego had an additional 161 identical drums, and shipping records showed numerous similar shipments from California to KWAN’s warehouse.
KWAN admitted that he laundered the proceeds of his drug trafficking, using seafood purchases. Specifically, KWAN used the drug money to buy fresh seafood, which he resold to seafood restaurants and distributors, who then wrote checks that KWAN caused to be deposited in bank accounts. Shortly after KWAN was initially arrested based on the 420-pound seizure, KWAN’s codefendant, Tram NGUYEN, made a $35,000 transfer out of the bank account used for the seafood transactions, and NGUYEN also transferred additional funds out of the seafood transaction account and into a bank account in the name of a newly-created corporation.
NGUYEN pleaded guilty on October 1, 2018, to helping conceal the drug trafficking and money laundering, and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 8, 2019.
Judge Jay C. Zainey sentenced KWAN to 70 months in the Bureau of Prisons, as well as 5 years of supervised release following the term of imprisonment.
U.S. Attorney Strasser praised the work of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Louisiana State Police. Assistant United States Attorneys Nicholas D. Moses and Jeffrey Sandman are in charge of the prosecution.
SOURCE: news provided by JUSTICE.GOV on Thursday, December 20, 2018.