Drug ring made sale in mall food court, authorities charge
Five men have been arrested and charged in a drug conspiracy that authorities said included a drug sale in the food court of the Tysons Corner Center mall.
The men -- Jonathan Pai,Tofun Ali Ghasri, Paul Bang, Jeff L. Tsu, and Quang Huy Ho -- are charged in U.S. District Court in Alexandria with conspiracy to distribute Ecstasy and marijuana. Their arrest in late February came after a yearlong undercover investigation by a Montgomery County police officer. The men were ordered released pending trial after appearing in court on March 3.
An affidavit signed by Virginia State Police Special Agent Edmund J. Kelly and filed in court pointed to Pai, of Fairfax City, as the alleged leader of the conspiracy. In the affidavit, Kelly -- who was working on a Drug Enforcement Administration task force --
described a series of undercover drug buys going back to February 2009.
On Feb. 18, 2009, the affidavit said, the undercover officer met with Pai in the Tysons Corner Center parking garage, near the AMC movie theaters and TGI Friday's restaurant. The officer handed Pai $1,200 inside a Camel Light Cigarette box, and Pai gave him two bags of Ecstasy pills, the affidavit said.
Months later, on Dec. 2, 2009, Pai sent the undercover officer a text message saying "You ready to hang out?'' Pai then called Ghasri, of Manassas, and offered him $200 to meet someone who Pai didn't trust at the Tysons Corner Center Mall.
The following day, the affidavit said, after Pai and the officer spoke in the afternoon, a surveillance team spotted Ghasri sitting in the mall's food court. He had a pink bag in front of him on a table, the affidavit said.
About 4:10 p.m., the officer met with Pai in the food court, and handed Pai a Motorola cell phone box containing $10,000. Pai walked away, but minutes later the transaction was completed on a pedestrian ramp near the mall entrance, where Pai handed the officer a bag containing about $4,000 Ecstasy pills, the affidavit said.
Peter Greenspun, a lawyer for Ghasri, declined comment. Lawyers for Pai did not immediately return telephone calls this afternoon.
(This post was updated from the original to reflect that Ghasri's lawyer had no comment)
-- Jerry Markon
March 10, 2010; 3:35 PM ET
Categories: Fairfax , From the Courthouse , Jerry Markon
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