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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

June 24, 2010

Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney

Contact: Lauren Horwood

(916) 554-2706

Second Superseding Indictment Handed Down in Plot to Overthrow the Government of Laos

Conspirators Planned to Arm Hmong Insurgency and Procure Mercenaries

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that a federal grand jury in Sacramento issued a five-count second superseding indictment in United States v. Harrison Jack, et al., the pending prosecution related to the alleged 2006–2007 plot by various individuals to overthrow the government of Laos.

This case has been the result of an extensive investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Prosecuting the case are Assistant United States Attorneys S. Robert Tice-Raskin, Ellen Endrizzi, Jill Thomas, Jared Dolan, as well as Trial Attorneys Robert Wallace and Heather Schmidt of the National Security Division at the United States Department of Justice.

The second superseding indictment names the same 12 defendants presently under indictment: Harrison Jack, 63, of Woodland; Lo Cha Thao, 37, of Clovis; Lo Thao, 66, of Sacramento; Youa True Vang, 73, of Sanger; Hue Vang, 41, Fresno; Chong Vang Thao, 57, of Fresno; Seng Vue, 71, of Fresno; Chue Lo, 62, of Stockton; Nhia Kao Vang, 51, of Rancho Cordova; David Vang, 51, of Fresno; Jerry Vang, 59, of Stockton; and Thomas Vang, 48, of Stockton.

The second superseding indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to acquire and furnish military arms, munitions, materiel, personnel, and money to insurgents in Laos to conduct military operations against the government of Laos and to overthrow the government. The indictment outlines a series of meetings with an undercover ATF agent and conversations among the defendants during which they allegedly outlined plans to acquire and ship arms to insurgents in Laos for use against the current government and to procure mercenaries to initiate targeted bombings of government buildings in the Lao capital, all as part of an effort to cause a coup.

All defendants are charged with:

  • conspiring to violate the Neutrality Act; to receive, possess and transfer machine guns and destructive devices; and to export listed defense items without a license from the U.S. Department of State (count one);
  • conspiring to kill, maim and injure persons and to damage property in a foreign country (count two);
  • conspiring to receive and transport explosives in interstate and foreign commerce (count four).
  • violating the Neutrality Act (count five).

Additionally, defendants Harrison Jack, Lo Cha Thao, Lo Thao, Hue Vang, Chong Yang Thao, Che Lo, Youa True Vang, Nhia Kao Vang, and Jerry Yang are charged with conspiring to receive and possess missile systems designed to destroy aircraft (Stinger missiles) (count three).

The second superseding indictment charges the same defendants with the same crimes as the first superseding indictment, but adds a limited number of modified allegations. For example, the first superseding indictment alleged in count one that one of the objects of the conspiracy was to acquire military arms, munitions, materiel, personnel, and money in the United States and to transfer and furnish said military arms, munitions, materiel, personnel, and money to insurgents in Laos to conduct military operations against the government of Laos or to overthrow the government of Laos. The second superseding indictment realleges these objects, but also makes similar allegations when describing the manner and means of the conspiracy.

All of the defendants have been released from custody on bail and other conditions of supervision. A hearing has been scheduled for October 15, 2010, in connection with a number of defense motions. If convicted, they face a potential sentence of life in prison. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.