Major drug busts last week in Fishtown, NoLibs

A Fishtown man was ar­res­ted last week for al­legedly grow­ing 500 pounds of marijuana in his home, as a NoLibs gar­age was raided by au­thor­it­ies for marijuana and cash.

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

Man­aging Ed­it­or Mi­kala Jam­is­on can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at mjam­is­

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