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Hercules Man Gets 18 Years For Casino Drug Operation

Cuong Mach Binh Tieu, 42, last summer admitted running a drug operation and leading a loan-shark concern out of two local card clubs.

A Hercules man who ran a drug ring and loan-sharking operation at two Bay area card clubs was sentenced to 18 years behind bars Thursday.

Cuong Mach Binh Tieu, 42, last summer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to lead a racketeering operation, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and ecstasy and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, as well as seven other felony charges, it was reported in the Contra Costa Times.

Tieu led the drug trafficking trade at the Oaks Card Club, 4097 San  Pablo Ave. in Emeryville and Artichoke Joe's at 659 Huntington Ave., in San Bruno, it was reported.

The case was made following a four-year joint investigation by the FBI, the DEA, the California Department of Justice, the Bureau of Gambling Control, and the IRS.

Fifteen people were indicted on charges of racketeering, loan-sharking and drug dealing in the operation.

The indictment was issued by a grand jury in 2011 and unsealed following the arrests of 14 of the defendants by federal, state and local agents at numerous Bay Area locations.

Investigators determined that Tieu was the leader of a crew that used the cash drawers at both clubs to finance its drug operation, according to the Contra Costa Times.

According to prosecutors, Tieu on June 30, 2009 used $30,000 from the Oaks Card Club to purchase 25 kilograms of ephedrine, which he used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine and ecstasy, the newspaper reported.

Tieu had been facing loan-sharking charges and could have spent 40 years in prison if convicted on all counts, according to Bay City News Service.

Prosecutors also said Tieu's organization enabled casino employees to engage in loan-sharking practices with customers, the Contra Costa Times reported.

The loan sharks regularly charged 10 percent interest a week for the loans distributed in the casinos, it was reported.

In addition to his time behind bars, Tieu was sentenced to a five-year supervision period once he is released, according to the Contra Costa Times.

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