Date of Judgment: 14 August 2020; 21 August 2020; 5 October 2020
Court: County Court of Victoria
Partner Agency: Australian Federal Police
Summary of charges: Four Melbourne men (Paul Ngo [aged 35], William Do [aged 34], Huy Hoang [aged 35] and Tony Tran [aged 34]) have been sentenced for their roles in operating a drug syndicate in Melbourne’s western suburbs in mid 2018. The men had conspired with one another to maintain a supply of controlled drugs and traffick commercial quantities of methamphetamine and heroin. They were also each convicted of dealing with proceeds of crime and/or additional drug trafficking offences. A fifth man known to the syndicate, Arthur Nguyen, was also later sentenced for trafficking in a commercial quantity of methamphetamine.
Synopsis: Between May and September 2018, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) conducted Operation Kungur-Oak, an investigation into drug trafficking in Melbourne’s western suburbs. The investigation primarily focused on the drug syndicate controlled by Paul Ngo. Ngo was responsible for sourcing and purchasing methamphetamine and heroin from importers and other wholesale suppliers. Initially with his co-offender Do and later with Hoang and Tran, Ngo engaged in multiple and frequent instances of trafficking large quantities of both methamphetamine and heroin. Do and Hoang (as Ngo’s trusted assistants) were responsible for storing, guarding and concealing a supply of the controlled drugs and managing significant cash amounts paid to the enterprise. They were also each responsible for conducting drug trafficking transactions and maintaining payments and debts owed to the syndicate. Tran was responsible for providing his residence as space and storage to the syndicate, which was used to store and conceal the syndicate’s drug supply.
At the time of their arrests in September 2018, the syndicate members were found to be in possession of over $200,000 in cash, a hydraulic block press, over three kilograms of methamphetamine, over a kilogram of heroin and a cannabis grow house. During the period of the offending, Ngo dealt with over $1,000,000 the proceeds of the syndicate’s criminal activity. Ngo and Do were also each sentenced for having dealt with money reasonably suspected of being the proceeds of crime in the years prior to this offending (Ngo having dealt with more than $1.9 million, Do having dealt with $283,161).
Nguyen, an associate of Ngo’s, was later sentenced for having trafficked in commercial quantity of methamphetamine in July 2018 and having further trafficked in methamphetamine and dealt with the proceeds of crime in December 2018.
Key points: The principal offender and head of the drug trafficking syndicate, Paul Ngo, was sentenced to a total effective sentence of 18 years and eight months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of eight years and two months.
William Do was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment for his involvement in Ngo’s drug trafficking enterprise between May 2018 and August 2018. Do’s sentence also related to his dealing with monies reasonably suspected of being the proceeds of crime and cannabis offending. A non-parole period of eight years and four months was fixed.
Huy Hoang was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of eight years and two months for his role in the drug trafficking syndicate between August and September 2018. Tony Tran was also sentenced for his role in the enterprise during that same period. Mr Tran received a total effective sentence of 10 years and two months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of seven years and two months.
Arthur Nguyen was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 14 years and 10 months for his related offending. Mr Nguyen will be eligible for parole only after serving nine years and four months of that term of imprisonment.
Sentencing: In sentencing the offenders, Judge Doyle of the County Court of Victoria described the syndicate’s drug trafficking enterprise as a very serious example of these offences. His Honour observed that the quantities of money dealt with by the syndicate was illustrative of the scale of the trafficking and the sophistication of their offending. In sentencing the principal offender Ngo, Judge Doyle described his moral culpability as very significant and observed that his offending involved “literally thousands of individual criminal acts”. His Honour described the role of Do and Hoang as that of trusted assistants, who were each involved in most aspects of the business and essential to the syndicate’s ongoing operations. Judge Doyle described Tran’s role, in concealing and storing controlled drugs, as having been critical to its ongoing success of the enterprise.
AFP Media Release (21 August 2020) – Australian drug syndicate boss and high-ranking member sentenced in Melbourne
AFP Media Release (7 October 2020) – Member of Melbourne criminal drug syndicate jailed