ELK GROVE (CBS13) — An Elk Grove real estate agent is now accused of being involved in an international crime ring.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says Heidi Phong helped Chinese national crime organizations buy homes in the Sacramento region, and convert them into illegal pot grows.
Phong owns HP Real Estate. The company has a retail store in an Elk Grove strip mall. CBS13 went to the office where employees said they were unaware of Phong's arrest.
Federal agents arrested Phong in a traffic stop after she left her home Thursday morning.
Pictures on her website promote her as being a top seller in the area, including selling 15 times more homes than the average real estate agent.
Now the U.S. Attorney's office is identifying Phong as the most prolific realtor in the area, connected to its criminal forfeitures of grow houses.
"Eighty-five percent of these 100 homes we're going to forfeit were sold by one real estate agent," U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott told reporters back in April during a press conference about their investigation.
The U.S. Attorney's office now confirms that one real estate agent is Phong.
The indictment against Phong shows she not only represented buyers who intended to convert homes into indoor marijuana cultivation sites but Phong and her co-conspirators also "took steps to avoid detection of the ongoing conspiracy including by creating false lease and rental agreements."
Investigators found money from grow houses connected to Phong would then re-circulate in a vast money laundering scheme.
"The marijuana grown in those houses was distributed all over the United States, but particularly to major cities, on the eastern seaboard, such as New York City, and Atlanta, Georgia," Scott said.
An international crime ring stretching from China to New York. Now federal investigators say this Elk Grove home seller, was the key to unlocking the whole case.
Heidi Phong remains in custody Thursday night. She is set to appear before a judge for the first time Friday. If convicted, she could get up to 40 years in prison.
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