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SPECIAL INVESTIGATION

Gang conspiracy involved dealing military-grade weapons on Harding Boulevard

Undercover agents used informants, marked bills to strengthen case
By: Scott Thomas Anderson, Editor
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New information is surfacing about where in Roseville Laotian gang members allegedly sold a cache of assault rifles and machine pistols  — and how law enforcement zeroed in on the guns and narcotics operation, which was netting tens of thousands of dollars.

Meanwhile, the nine men and women charged as co-conspirators appeared in Placer County Superior Court today and last week as concerns were brought forward by their attorneys.

Jady Mysoth, Jack Thammavongsa, Sisouphanh Phomma, Roger Boriboune, Udom Ketphanh, Panya Manivong, Veronica Powe, Derrick Hardin and Jimmie Lee Jones are all charged with varying degrees of involvement in a ring allegedly transporting and selling illegal weapons, stolen guns and methamphetamine in Placer and Sacramento counties.

Mysoth, Thammavongsa and Phomma — reportedly Asian gang members who identify themselves as Lao Gangster Crips, or LGC — have also been charged by the Placer County District Attorney’s Office with street terrorism.

According to warrant declarations obtained by the Press Tribune, the case began on Aug. 2, 2011 when a detective for a special investigations bureau of the California Highway Patrol learned from one of his confidential informants that a convicted felon named Derrick Hardin was allegedly trying to sell weapons from his home on Lerwick Road in Sacramento. CHP investigators and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms allegedly supervised a controlled purchase of an AK47 assault rifle from Hardin and Mysoth at a house on Arcade Boulevard in Sacramento.

Probable cause documents in the case indicate Mysoth soon became the main director of ongoing weapon sales to informants and undercover state and federal agents. Mysoth, according to the CHP’s lead detective, has the words Lao Gangster Crips tattooed on his arm. Ketphahn and Manivong — who were reportedly present at various weapon deals — both live within several addresses of Mysoth on Arcade Boulevard. That neighborhood has seen gang violence in recent years, including other members of the Lao Gangster Crips committing a triple drive-by shooting in 2009 in the same stretch of Arcade Boulevard. 

Arrest narratives show Mysoth allegedly arranged gun deals by cell phone and then exchanged weapons for cash in Citrus Heights and Roseville. One of the main Roseville locations for dealing was the parking lot of Ace Hardware on Harding Boulevard. The law enforcement team tracking these sales included two Roseville police detectives and Placer County Sheriff’s detective.             

Regional law enforcement generally describes the Lao Gangster Crips, or Lil’ Gangster Crips, as a hyper-local gang that usually engages in violence with a rival Laotian group called EEC, or El Camino Crips.

“They are a known north Sacramento gang,” said Chris Starr, the Sacramento Police Department’s expert on Asian gangs. “They’re from that area and they have a really localized style. They’ve been involved with burglary, auto theft, narcotics, shootings and homicides.”   

One of the suspects charged with street terrorism, Thammavongsa, has been released on a $150,000 bail schedule. 

Placer County Public Defender John Mustapha appeared in court last week to address bail concerns for another alleged co-conspirator, Boriboune. Despite being the most physically imposing member of the Laotian circle, Boriboune’s inability to speak English and other personal challenges may complicate his involvement in the case. His sister, Penne Boriboune, told Judge Thomas Warriner the defendant has IQ issues.

“He has a learning disability,” Penne Boriboune said in court. “He’s been in special ed classes in school. He’s easily manipulated and doesn’t understand what’s going on right now. My 8-year-old son is able to bully him.”

Warriner allowed Mustapha to file a 1017 motion with the court, which calls for an evaluation of Boriboune’s metal competency.

Today, all other defendants in the case were ushered into Placer County Superior Court with their attorneys at their sides. Manivong announced that he would be pleading guilty to a felony charge of transporting illegal weapons. He was sentenced to nine months in county jail and three years of formal probation.

The other eight defendants in the case are continuing to plead not guilty.  

Scott Thomas Anderson can be reached at scotta@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at ScottA_RsvPT.