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Three southwest Minnesota men sentenced for California to South Dakota marijuana operation

Three Worthington, Minn., men who ran an extensive marijuana operation bringing pot from California to the Sioux Falls area to sell have been sentenced in federal court in South Dakota.

Law officers believe at least 500 pounds of marijuana was sold in the operation.

The three all pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to distribute marijuana in a case that started back in 2014. One of the men also admitted money laundering.

Sentences handed down  last week in federal court by U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier in Sioux Falls  were 2 ½ years in prison for Inpaeng Phady, 30; almost two years for Keophothone Rounoubon, 23,  and five years for Somwang Wong Khanya, 32.

Khanya had the stiffer sentence because he was also convicted of the money laundering. The three will also all be on supervised probation after their release.

According to U.S. Attorney for South Dakota Randy Seiler, the Worthington men had a marijuana source in California and traveled there from their southwest Minnesota homes on many occasions to purchase and bring back marijuana for distribution in the Sioux Falls area and elsewhere. Worthington is about 60 miles east of Sioux Falls.

They also used other people to make the trips and to distribute marijuana.

Khanya used various methods to launder the proceeds of the marijuana sales, including purchasing many expensive items, such as 63 designer handbags, purses, and wallets from Louis Vuitton, Coach, Chanel, Gucci, and Burberry having an approximate retail value of $62,000; purchasing gold jewelry with an approximate retail value of $54,000; running cash through casinos; maneuvering bank accounts and purchasing a 2009 Lexus IS250.

In buying the vehicle, he financed, titled, registered and insured it in other people’s names.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations unit.

The three were immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S.Marshals Service and taken to prison.