Man convicted of running SoCal-to-Canada drug ring

A 43-year-old man was found guilty Thursday of running a drug-trafficking organization that intended to export hundreds of pounds of cocaine and heroin from Southern California into Canada, and imported MDMA into the United States using big rigs and fully encrypted telephones to work the scheme.

Vincent Yen Tek Chiu of Vancouver, Canada, was found guilty in Los Angeles of one federal count each of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to export controlled substances, distribution of cocaine, distribution of heroin and distribution of MDMA -- known as ecstasy, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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Evidence presented at his seven-day trial in downtown Los Angeles showed that Chiu and other members of the organization obtained multi-pound quantities of cocaine, and less frequently, heroin from Los Angeles and passed the drugs to couriers who intended to transport them to Canada for further distribution.

Big rig trucks were used to try to export some cocaine into Canada.

At trial, prosecutors presented evidence regarding four drug loads Chiu purchased, totaling just over 198 pounds of cocaine and 17.6 pounds of heroin -- with an estimated wholesale value of $4.5 million -- that he intended to export to Canada. Federal agents intercepted several of the deliveries and law enforcement seized more than $800,000 in Canadian currency during the investigation, evidence showed.

U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt scheduled an Aug. 4 sentencing hearing, at which time Chiu will face a sentence between 10 years and life in federal prison. He has been in federal custody since his arrest in July 2019, federal prosecutors said.

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