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Drug suspect to stay in custody until trial

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Long Bao Ngo

Long Bao Ngo

A violent criminal history and gang ties prompted a federal magistrate judge to order a major ecstasy-dealer suspect be held in federal custody pending trial.

During a detention hearing Monday, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Paul Warner ordered 31-year-old Long Bao Ngo to continue to be held in federal custody, ruling that Ngo is a danger to society.

Federal prosecutors said Ngo is a high figure in an Asian gang and has a criminal history, which includes shooting a rival gang member and a home-invasion burglary. After his arrest last month, federal agents also reported finding four loaded guns in his Murray home, including one hidden among ramen noodles in the kitchen and one in a nightstand in a bedroom.

Federal agents believe Ngo is the "kingpin" of an ecstasy-dealing ring that had dealt more than 100,000 tablets with an estimated street value of $2 million.

Ngo and five other men were indicted last month on charges of drug dealing and face up to 20 years in prison. Federal prosecutors on Monday said they plan to charge Ngo with federal firearms violations as well.

A prosecutor told Warner that Ngo was convicted in state court of dealing ecstasy in 1994 and was still on probation for that crime when he was arrested by federal agents last month.

Ngo is also considered by law enforcement as a violent hard-core gang member who sports numerous gang-related tattoos, including one of a gang member "flashing a gang sign" and brandishing a gun.

Prosecutors also said the U.S. government has tried to deport Ngo back to his home country of Vietnam, but that country will not take him.

Ngo's attorney claimed the guns found in his client's home belonged to his wife, who has a concealed weapons permit. Through his attorney, Ngo also claimed that he is no longer involved in gang activity.

Warner said because Ngo's parents, wife and child are all in the area he didn't find him a flight risk. But he said he found Ngo's proximity to firearms while being a convicted felon troubling.

A federal prosecutor said they have several witnesses, some arrested with more than 1,000 ecstasy tablets, who will testify that Ngo was their supplier. Ngo's attorney argued that testimony was not credible because the witnesses had been offered special immunity in their cases for agreeing to testify.

Federal officials said they wanted to see Ngo kept in federal custody to protect the safety of witnesses in the case.

E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com