Duluth money launderers sentenced to prison

DULUTH - Two Duluth residents accused of laundering more than $15 million were sentenced Friday to spend time in prison.

Hoang Nguyen, 41, and Terry Nguyen, 34, were sentenced to spend a total of more than 22 years in jail between the two for establishing an extensive money laundering operation in both Atlanta and Canada, according to a U.S. Attorney's Office press release.

U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias said the charges and other information presented in court revealed in early 2002, as part of an ecstasy investigation in Toronto, Canada, that Canadian officials intercepted calls to a group of people who laundered money for numerous drug organizations in Canada and the United States.

A separate Canadian investigation was initiated, which outed the money launderers. Through the money-laundering investigation, Canadian authorities determined that drug money was being laundered through an extensive network of business entities, couriers and money remitters within Canada and the United States, according to the release.

Based upon investigation and the information from Canadian authorities, the Drug Enforcement Administration received court authorization to intercept the telephone calls of Hoang and Terri Nguyen in Atlanta, the release said. Those calls detailed an extensive money-laundering organization centered in Atlanta, which used businesses in the Asian community in Atlanta to transfer large sums of illicit cash out of the United States.

"This case demonstrates our continued commitment to take away drug dealers' incentive to sell drugs: profit," Nahmias said in the release. "The defendants are professional money launderers. They worked with and for drug dealers and by doing so attempted to legitimize the drug-dealing proceeds and invest them for the dealers, thereby keeping the drug business going and concealing the source of the funds. We will not tolerate the proliferation of illegal drugs in our society in any manner, and the conviction and sentencing of Hoang and Terri Nguyen will show others what can happen when you traffic in drugs and drug money."

The pair was arrested March 31, 2004, during a nationwide takedown.

Agents seized approximately $2.5 million in cash, real estate and vehicles, all of which have been forfeited to the United States. The evidence showed a total of approximately $15 million dollars in laundered drug proceeds were attributed to the pair between January 2003 and March 2004, according to the release.

Hoang Nguyen was sentenced to 19 years and 7 months in prison, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release. Terri was sentenced to 3 years and 5 months in prison, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release.