Nine people are in custody — and three more are facing charges — after Hall County authorities busted six marijuana grow operations, seizing $7.1 million worth of drugs in the process.
Authorities seized more than 1,500 marijuana plants and 300 packages of the drug between Sept. 18 and 26, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the Hall County Sheriff's Office.
"Operations such as this are proof that large scale drug networks are not just operating in Hall County, but are invading our quiet neighborhoods. Among our biggest concerns in these types of cases is the fact that they occur in normal, residential neighborhoods and have the potential to bring violent crimes with them," said Sheriff Gerald Couch in a statement.
In addition to agents with the Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad (MANS), personnel from FBI North Georgia Major Offender Task Force, the Georgia National Guard Counter Drug Task Force and the Hall County Sheriff’s Office Uniform Patrol division assisted in the crackdown. Also, in two of the cases the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Barrow County Sheriff’s Office assisted.
Authorities also seized $329,735 in cash during the busts, which are listed below in chronological order.
SEPTEMBER 18, ASHFORD WAY, GAINESVILLE
Authorities seized 521 marijuana plants and 129 pounds of harvested marijuana, valued at $3.1 million. Five suspect were arrested:
- Minh Luong, 53 of Gainesville
- Phu Ngoc Luong, 25 of Hoschton
- Henry Nguyen, 48, of Gainesville
- Hang Nguyen, 53, of Duluth
- Thao Phoung Nguyen, 26, of Hoschton
All were charged with manufacturing marijuana, trafficking marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana.
SEPTEMBER 18, BERINGER DRIVE, HOSCHTON (BARROW COUNTY)
The five suspects listed above also face charges in Barrow County, after authorities found more than 400 marijuana plants and $1 million worth of the drug.
SEPTEMBER 19, VALLEY CREEK DRIVE, FLOWERY BRANCH
Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad (MANS) agents executed a search warrant, leading to the connection of suspects and homes/businesses/vehicles connected to the operation.
SEPTEMBER 19, BLANC WAY, BRASELTON (JACKSON COUNTY)
MANS agents, along with Jackson County Sheriff's deputies discovered a partially dismantled grow operation containing more than 200 plants and 164 pounds of marijuana, valued at $738,000. One suspect was arrested, charged with manufacturing marijuana, trafficking marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute:
- Trung Bui, 47, of Flowery Branch
SEPTEMBER 20, DAVIS BRIDGE DRIVE, GAINESVILLE
MANS agents discovered an indoor grow operation, seizing 374 plants and $1.92 million worth of marijuana, plus $35,974 cash. The previous six suspects were charged with more counts of the previous charges, and warrants were issued for a seventh suspect:
- Sen Thi Do, 46, of Flowery Branch
SEPTEMBER 20, SHAG BARK TRAIL, GAINESVILLE
The suspects dismantled the indoor grow operation before deputies arrive, but agents were able to seize $5,400 worth of marijuana along with growing equipment. An eighth suspect was arrested:
- Nam Van Dao, 46, of Gainesville
Nearly $36,000 in cash was frozen at BB&T bank for seizure. A similar warrant is pending with Bank of America.
SEPTEMBER 25, MELBOURNE TRAIL, FLOWERY BRANCH
Agents discover another indoor grow operation that had been dismantled prior to the execution of a search warrant. Still, $9,000 of marijuana was seized, two more suspects were charged with manufacturing marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and felony possession of marijuana:
- Vinh To, 63, of Flowery Branch (warrants issued)
- Binh Van Hoang, 52, of Flowery Branch (arrested)
SEPTEMBER 25, FERN CREEK DRIVE, FLOWERY BRANCH
More than 68 pounds of marijuana was discovered, which the suspects allegedly tried to bury in the backyard, totaling $306,000. Authorities also froze $237,000 with Bank of America. Warrants were issued for two more suspects:
- Thu Thi Pan, 50, of Flowery Branch (arrested)
- Dung Nguyen, 47, of Flowery Branch (warrant issued)
SEPTEMBER 25, RENTED STORAGE UNIT, ATLANTA HIGHWAY, FLOWERY BRANCH
Agents discovered marijuana growing equipment inside of the suspects' rented storage unit.
Authorities seized $49,500 in cash from a safety deposit box at Bank of America.