CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Today, U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell sentenced three individuals for trafficking methamphetamine in Catawba County, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Chha Chham, 43, of Mooresville, North Carolina, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and five years of supervised release. Kong Sayavong, 40, of Visalia, California, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. Hannah Olivia Secrest, 23, of Morganton, North Carolina, was sentenced to three years in prison and three years of supervised release.
According to filed court documents and statements made in court, from 2018 to September 2019, Chham, Sayavong, and Secrest, were involved in a conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine in Catawba County and elsewhere. Court records show that Chham was the leader of the drug conspiracy, and obtained the methamphetamine from a supply source in California. According to court records, co-conspirator David Alexander Moralez, Jr. worked at a shipping company in California as a mail clerk, and was responsible for mailing packages containing methamphetamine from California to traffickers on the East Coast, including Chham. Sayavong and Secrest were Chham’s local drug distributors. Sayavong was also responsible for arranging drug shipments with Moralez, and Secrest frequently picked up the packages shipped by Moralez and collected drug proceeds for Chham. According to court records, Chham, Sayavong, and Secrest sent drug proceeds back to California via Walmart-to-Walmart transfers and bank deposits, to pay for, among other things, Moralez’s fees and expenses.
Chham, Sayavong and Secrest previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Sayavong also pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. On October 21, 2020, a federal jury convicted Moralez of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, two counts of distribution of methamphetamine, and money laundering conspiracy. Moralez is currently awaiting sentencing.
Today’s sentences are the result of an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation codenamed “Dixie Crystal.” According to court documents, since 2015, more than 200 individuals have been prosecuted and law enforcement has seized far in excess of 120 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, $1,000,000 in U.S. currency and other assets, and dozens of firearms. OCDETF is a joint federal, state and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional drug trafficking organizations and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.
In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the following agencies for their investigative efforts which led to the prosecution of this case: ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Charlotte; HSI in Greenville and Nashville; the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Charlotte Field Office; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Charlotte; the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation; the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office; the Boone Police Department; the Burke County Sheriff’s Office; the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office; the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office; the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department; the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office; the Davie County Sheriff’s Office; the Gaston County Police Department; the Gastonia Police Department; the Huntersville Police Department; the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office; the Hickory Police Department; the Johnson County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office; the Mooresville Police Department; the Newton Police Department; the Longview Police Department; the Morganton Department of Public Safety; the Rutherford County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office; and the Troutman Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven R. Kaufman, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.