A 41-year-old Fishtown man was arrested Thursday, Dec. 6, after authorities raided his home on the 2300 block of Frankford Ave. and found hundreds of marijuana plants and as well as large bags of cut marijuana.
The 343 full-grown marijuana plants, 150 plants in the incubation stage and the bags of grass found in Vinh Quang Nguyen’s home added up to more than 500 pounds, according to a district attorney’s office news release Friday morning. The dope has a value of $1.5 million to $5 million.
Law enforcement officers said Nguyen tried to mask the smell of all that marijuana by boiling fabric softener and venting it out of the house. That didn’t seem to work.
“The smell of marijuana coming from the house was so pungent that anyone walking by could smell it,” Tasha Jamerson, the DA’s spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
Nguyen was charged with possession with intent to distribute, risking a catastrophe, endangering the welfare of a child and knowing and intentional possession of a controlled substance. Jamerson said Nguyen was the only person arrested.
Members of the District Attorney’s Dangerous Drug Offenders Unit and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency raided the home on Thursday. Many of the plants they found, the DA’s office said, were more than 5 feet tall. In all more than 500 pounds of marijuana were recovered from the house. The street value of the marijuana is approximately $3,000 to $10,000 per pound, the DA’s office stated.
“There was an elaborate and dangerous electrical wiring system hooked up in the home operating heat lamps used to grow the plants,” the district attorney reported.
“Agents also discovered two pots of boiling water with fabric softener inside that were attached to the vent system of the house. The defendant was attempting to mask the pungent odor of marijuana in the home with the fabric softener fumes.”
Nguyen’s two small children also lived in the house, and their beds were just 15 feet away from the rooms containing the plants, the DA’s office stated.
Nguyen remains in custody with bail set at $1 million. Nguyen had what is called a “Nebbia hearing” on Friday, that result of which is that, even if he is able to post bail, he will have to prove it was not drawn from illegal sources. A preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 27.
In another River Wards drug bust, also on Thursday night, Dec. 6, a currently unnamed California man was arrested near SugarHouse Casino for his role in a major drug operation.
A task force comprising detectives from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Agency and Philadelphia Police Department raided a garage at 3rd and George streets in Northern Liberties that night and seized 250 pounds of high-grade marijuana known as “Sour Diesel,” along with $125,000 in cash.
Officials say shipments had been delivered to the garage once a month via unsuspecting trucking companies. The investigation is ongoing, and the man has yet to be charged.
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Managing Editor Mikala Jamison can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at email@example.com.