Four days before his 23rd birthday in 2013, Minh Phu Tran walked away from his bedroom computer and an Internet chat with a pal about good party drugs, answered the doorbell at his Placentia home and accepted what appeared to be a U.S. Postal Service delivery of a package he'd been expecting.
The sender in the Netherlands had labeled the contents of the package as "documents."
In reality, it contained an aluminum enclosure hiding more than 500 grams of the designer, party drug Ecstasy.
Whatever high Tran experienced when he opened the package didn't last long.
The delivery person was a Department of Homeland Security agent dressed like a postman.
Agents quickly raided Tran's Lee Place house, recovered the illegal narcotics as well as drug dealer props: packaging, drug purity test kit, cash and scales.
Unbeknownst to Tran, he'd been under surveillance by members of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement task force for receiving numerous other international packages containing Ecstasy pills and powder.
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This week inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, prosecutors sought a punishment of nearly two years in prison, but U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney decided the appropriate term matched the recommendation by Tustin-based defense attorney Brian N. Gurwitz: 12 months and one day.
Tran, who is presently free from custody on bail, has until noon on June 30 to self surrender to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.