Six Involved in Large SSF Pot Bust Sentenced to County Jail Time and Probation

Raids in May 2011 by the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force netted almost 1000 plants and guns.


Six of seven suspects that netted about $450,000 worth of marijuana plants were each sentenced Wednesday to less than six months time in the county jail.

Steven Pham, 25, Tue Pham, 37, Marvin Pham, 27, Brian Wong, 31, Nam Nguyen, 29, Danny Nguyen, 22 and Donna Quach, 28 had been charged with felony counts of possession of marijuana for sale, cultivation of marijuana and operating a building for the purpose of storing or growing. Steven Pham, Marvin Pham, Nam Nguyen and Donna Quach were also charged with possession of firearms.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe was disappointed with the sentence handed out, "...and I'd tell the judge that."

On the bench for the case was Judge Craig Parsons.

"Back in the day," continued Wagstaffe, "I can remember when a guy with five joints would get state prison time. I think it speaks about the declining criminal value of marijuana in the eyes of judges; who knows where that will go?"

Officers uncovered a shotgun, a rifle, and several handguns during the sting operation, including the find of a loaded .40 caliber handgun plus ammunition in a child's bedroom dresser drawer at one of the residences.

Charges against Donna Quach were later dropped. The other six defendants pleaded no contest to the charges.

The sting operation on May 16, 2011 was one of several the County Narcotics Task Force carried out last year, and was uniquely dubbed "Mighty Mites" because the plants discovered in the grow houses were found to have spider mite infestations.

Three grow houses were raided in Daly City and one in South San Francisco. The .

Police believe all of the suspects are allegedly members of a close-knit Asian drug trafficking organization and are not associated with any known medical marijuana dispensaries.

"These weren't a bunch of guys that got together and said 'Hey, let's grow some pot and see if we can make some money,'" said Wagstaffe.

Each suspect was held on $1 million bail until Wednesday's sentencing.

Bren April 14, 2012 at 06:47 AM
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe sounds awfully draconian to me. These poor fellows are going to jail for half a year, and they'll have criminal records that will limit their employment options for the rest of their lives. Just what kind of sentence does Wagstaffe think their victimless crimes call for?
Roy April 15, 2012 at 05:06 PM
He is a real piece of work .Wagstaffe and this Country either needs to adapt to the prop 215 state laws on all cases and make them charges not felonys for all cases past and future or step down .Good job Judge Parsons...
Pacificat April 15, 2012 at 06:45 PM
I support Prop 215 but these "poor fellows" were running 3 grow houses, were in possession of a lot of weapons, and look to be part of a drug gang. Maybe these are very bad dudes. So they're "going to jail for half a year, and they'll have criminal records that will limit their employment options for the rest of their lives." I'm not too concerned about them. I would have been more concerned about the neighbors living near the grow houses and the potential for lethal violence there.
Bren April 15, 2012 at 06:56 PM
I'm skeptical about the claim that they found a loaded .40 caliber handgun plus ammunition in a child's bedroom dresser drawer. I have no doubt that they did find such a weapon, but I've known people who've been busted for drugs, and from what I've seen of their experiences, cops lie and exaggerate all the time. I'm guessing this "child's bedroom dresser drawer" was not actually in a child's bedroom.
John Everymann September 30, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Dude. These guys are lucky they were growing in the the northern district of Cali. If they were in the eastern district, The feds in Sacramento, Bakersfield, Or Fresno would have picked up the case. And these fellas would be looking at a mandatory minimum of 10 years to life. That`s the federal penalty for growing 1,000 MJ plants. They need to be thanking god.


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