This week inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse a Little Saigon ecstasy dealer saw firsthand the impact of new federal drug sentencing guidelines set to go into effect on Nov. 1.
Under the current guidelines, Tu Luong Khuong--tied to the criminal street organization Asian Gang (AG)--faced a range of 63 to 78 months for selling nearly five kilograms of MDMA to a confidential informant working for law enforcement in 2013.
But U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter--the county's most experienced criminal judge--agreed with a request by federal prosecutors to comply with punishment reduction recommendations made by the United States Sentencing Commission, approved by Attorney General Eric Holder and effective if Congress doesn't interfere in coming weeks.
As a result, Carter sentenced Khuong to a term of 51 months plus the gangster will have to undergo supervised probation for three years upon his release from incarceration.
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The judge also ordered the convicted felon--who was born in 1992 and committed his latest offense (serving as a drug courier) while on probation for a prior crime--to stay away from AG and to resist wearing any of the gang's symbols.
An additional prison sentence is being served by another defendant in the case: 42-year-old Thanh Van Tran (a.k.a. Kevin), 97 months. Tran presently resides in a privately-run federal prison in Kern County and is scheduled to be freed in March 2020.