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A multimillion-dollar weed ring goes down -- and threatens to take a prominent restaurant owner with it

The bust was almost blown after an internal leak, and Dan Tang -- his Heaven Dragon Chinese food beloved local politicians -- was implicated.

Dressed in a suit and tie, Tang was silent as he listened to court proceedings on June 18 with the help of a Mandarin interpreter. He waived his right to a grand jury indictment and was charged by information. His only comment during the hearing was a brief "Yes, your honor" when asked by the judge if he understood what he was facing: a money-laundering charge and an asset-forfeiture allegation that would require Tang, if convicted, to relinquish all of his property, including $1.8 million that police have already seized.

While Tang could also be facing up to twenty years in prison, he's probably looking at a more lenient sentence, considering that he's a first-time offender. (Despite what the author of the tip-off letter suggested, Tang won't be looking at deportation: His lawyer points out that Tang is a U.S. citizen.) Also, since he wasn't charged with any drug-related offenses, unlike everyone else in the investigation, there's no minimum sentencing requirement for his crime.

"He was charged with what we had evidence for," says Dorschner from the U.S. Attorney's Office. In other words, the police never found enough proof to tie Tang to the marijuana being handled by the Dan Tang Organization.

Dan Tang in 2004, with his photo of George Bush.
Dan Tang in 2004, with his photo of George Bush.
Weiyin Deng, one of six brothers, faces several marijuana-growing charges
Weiyin Deng, one of six brothers, faces several marijuana-growing charges

"It is my wish, and that of all the chiefs, that eventually the whole issue will be put to rest and the individual who was responsible for the leak is identified," says Brighton Chief of Police Clint Blackhurst, who serves on North Metro's board of governors. "I don't know how this leak occurred. If it was from law enforcement, I hope we are able to find out who it was and take care of it. I think it's a shame that this has become the focus of the investigation.

"All of the bad stuff, I think it's a crying shame."

Check out a map of the Operation Fortune Cookie raids and a followup on one of the former drug homes at blogs.westword.com/latestword. Contact the author at joel.warner@westword.com.

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