When his nephew got greedy and dipped into the savings, Nguyen hatched a plot to exact revenge. According to charges filed Monday, Nguyen sought out a hitman to dispatch the nephew and several other business associates in Vietnam.
The Department of Homeland Security got wind of Nguyen's murder-for-hire scheme in March via an informant's tip. The feds arranged a meeting with a native Vietnamese-speaking undercover agent posing as a would-be assassin. In their first phone conversation, Nguyen made his intentions clear.
"I want him to be finished," Nguyen allegedly said. "Not hurt or injured."
"Sleeping with the fishes?" the agent asked.
"Kill him dead."
Court documents also say Nguyen requested that the nephew's body be placed in public so that a picture would be "put in the newspaper." The agent initially offered to do the job for $5,500, but upped the price to $7,000 for the special publicity-generating service.
Arranging an international assassination is apparently easier said than done, however, and Nguyen struggled with logistics like finding a photo of the intended target, and arranging transportation to and from the town where his nephew lived in Long Khanh Province, about four hours by motorcycle ride outside of Ho Chi Minh City. The pot dealer also upped the ante by allegedly hiring the undercover agent to kill several other people besides the troublesome nephew. These included the middle-aged owner of a noodle shop, a woman named Thuy, and any adult bystanders unlucky enough to be around during the killings.
Eventually, Nguyen worked out a plan to kill several birds with one stone: the unwitting nephew would be enlisted to help the assassins identify the other targets. The hitmen would then gun down the nephew, and finish off the others at their leisure. Nguyen arranged a phone conversation with the nephew, providing investigators with a secret code word -- "I am lost, show me the way" -- to signal that the conversation was authorized.
The American authorities contacted their Vietnamese counterparts, who posed as hired guns and met with the nephew. Feeling things were going smoothly, Nguyen allegedly asked the undercover HSI agent if the guys could do "other stuff," like, "taking body parts, arms, or legs."
By the time July 3 came around, Nguyen had ordered a total of seven assassinations in Vietnam, including his nephew. But before any Sicilian messages could be sent, Nguyen was arrested July 9. He is now charged with conspiracy to kill persons in a foreign country, and is being held in federal custody. If convicted this time around, he'll likely have to find a relative other than his nephew to keep an eye on his stashed cash.