Ngheim Chinh Khac Tran lived in an upscale Santa Ana neighborhood close to South Coast Plaza, where legal commercial transactions occur everyday.
But Tran--who uses the nickname "Tommy" and kept numerous weapons, like a Glock, in his possession--owned his own successful business: drug dealing.
You want cocaine? See Tommy.
You want Ecstasy pills? See Tommy.
You want marijuana? Yep, Tommy could take care of those needs too.
For at least six months in 2011, local police (including the West Covina Police Department) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents kept Tommy, his associates and his girlfriend under surveillance.
In October of that year, undercover agents tailing Tommy in his 4-Runner vehicle called upon a uniformed CHP officer to initiate a traffic stop.
Officers found 25 kilograms of packaged cocaine hidden inside a compartment and later got the suspect to admit that he regularly delivered large shipments of the drug to Portland, Oregon.
While that traffic stop was underway, Tommy's girlfriend--Hien Dieu Nguyen La--entered the Bear Street residence without any bags and left carrying one, according to a DEA surveillance report reviewed by OC Weekly.
She too was startled when agents stopped her and recovered one kilogram of cocaine, 664 grams of Ecstasy and more than 28 grams of marijuana. Additional stockpiles of narcotics were also found inside the residence, including 170 grams of cocaine stored in a bathroom.
What transpired during Tommy's court case is largely a secret. The government decided to seal from public inspection information about the drug dealer's activities, his plea bargain and, perhaps, cooperation with ongoing investigations.
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This week, U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney considered the secret arguments of a federal prosecutor and the secret arguments of a criminal defense lawyer, and then sentenced the defendant to 120 months in prison plus federal supervised probation for five years when he is freed.
Incarceration records show that Tran, 39, remains locked inside the Santa Ana Jail this afternoon and is awaiting a bus ride to a prison.