A 2009 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation into massive sales of the party drug Ecstasy (or MDMA) in Costa Mesa near Orange Coast College resulted this month in a prison term of 46 months for one of the drug dealers.
It's not known what arguments Andrew Quoc Tran's defense lawyer and Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Keenan made about punishment because U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney sealed the debate from public view.
Tran, who has been free from custody on $30,000 bail, pleaded guilty in March 2010 to four criminal counts filed in a federal indictment.
Former Santa Ana College student Julie Choi, one of his co-conspirators who worked as a driver in the narcotics distribution network, hoped her self-described minimal role would win leniency, and is serving a term of 37 months inside the federal correctional institution at Dublin.
(Keenan had sought a term of 70 months for her.)
The case disposition for Tuan Kiet Do Pham, another defendant, remains officially unresolved, according to records inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.
DEA agents reported they conducted lengthy, undetected surveillance on the defendants operating in Costa Mesa, Santa Ana and Little Saigon cities, and used a confidential informant as well as cell phone call and text message monitoring.
The conspiracy offered "Puma"-brand Ecstasy pills for $3 each when more than 1,000 were purchased, according to a DEA report.
Part of the case involved discussions about the flow of narcotics–including horse tranquilizer Ketamine–from Mexico into San Diego and OC.
Carney gave Tran, who was born in 1984, until noon on June 6 to self-surrender to the Bureau of Prisons or to U.S. marshals in Orange County.