6 convicted in ATF drug, robbery sting

A federal jury in Alexandria convicted six men Friday for agreeing to participate in a made-up scheme to rob a drug stash house.

The Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) agency conducted a four-month long undercover operation with the leader of the six men – Senh Phun – initially trading untaxed cigarettes in exchange for cash and marijuana with undercover agents. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

According to court testimony and documents, undercover ATF agents meet Phun for months at various locations, including the Sweetwater Tavern Restaurant in Falls Church, a strip club in Springfield, and other locations in Philadelphia and Las Vegas, to discuss deals. Some of the conversations were recorded and played for the jury.

          When undercover agents with the ATF’s Northern Virginia Violent Crime Task Force presented Phun with a chance to rob a fake drug stash house in Fairfax County where they claimed there was 10 kilograms of stolen cocaine, Phun, 31, expressed interest.

On Oct. 28, Phun’s associates – Khem Un, 27, Saraeun Min, 25, Marc Eric Johnson, 26, Jan Stevens, 29, and James McCallister, 27– came to Fairfax County and meet the undercover agents at a storage unit, ready to carry out the scenario. ATF agents testified that the men were armed with handguns, latex gloves and restraints to commit the robbery.

The men were arrested before a robbery was committed. Phun was arrested in Philadelphia the same day. All the men are from that city.

          Lawyers for the defendants argued that the men were only interested in getting untaxed cigarettes, not robbery.

          The men were convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of firearms in furtherance of the robbery conspiracy. Phun, Un, Min and Johnson were also convicted of conspiring to possess five kilograms or more of cocaine with intent to distribute. McCallister and Stevens were acquitted on the drug charge.

          Sentencing is set for June 17. Un and Johnson face a mandatory life sentence. Phun and Min face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum life sentence. Stevens and McCallister face a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum 25 years.

          Ashan M. Benedict, resident agent in charge of the ATF’s Falls Church office who oversaw the investigation, said “ATF and law enforcement are extremely pleased at the outcome of the trial because it resulted in a guilty verdict of six dangerous and violent defendants.”

Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.

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