A 30-year-old Vietnamese American woman seeking leniency for her involvement in an international cocaine distribution network and operating in Little Saigon, Beverly Hills and Santa Ana didn't get her way.
U.S. District Court Judge Gary A. Feess in Los Angeles this month sentenced Linda Pham to a term of four years in federal prison.
According to federal court records, Pham had argued that she played a minor role in the drug distribution network run by her brother, Hai Van Pham.
Using a safe house in Santa Ana (near Fairview and First streets) and running drugs between Australia, the U.S. and Canada, Hai Van Pham unwittingly opened negotiations in 2011 for 200 kilograms of cocaine at $21,500 per kilogram with another drug dealer he thought was tied to the Mexican Mafia.
Pham, who was born in 1975, was half right.
The other dealer, a convicted felon with a long rap sheet, is tied to the Mexican Mafia but also works for pay as a longtime, confidential informant for the U.S. government.
Agents at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) helped lure Pham and his crew into comfort by using an undercover Asian officer.
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With the help of police departments in Beverly Hills and Costa Mesa, the DEA operation involved phone taps, intense surveillance as well as meetings with the suspects at fast food restaurants, expensive hotels and stash houses.
Pham's punishment--as well as the status of fellow defendants Jorge Noel Cardenas Escobar, Khoa Dang Pham, Thi Oanh Ta, Dung Tien Doan, Augusto Recinos Asencio, Juan Cebreros Iribe, Natividad Escobar Cardenas, Luis Castaneda and Alfredo Gonzalo Alcocer--is unknown.
At the request of the government, the judge has sealed huge portions of the case.