Suspect in Fresno-Texas pot bust in court

FRESNO, Calif.

The case is moving forward even without the man who detectives say was behind the large scale drug operation.

Two of the women accused of transporting the drugs are out on bail. Friday morning one of them faced a federal judge.

Kay Viengkham was late to court Friday after her attorney told the court she had to drive in from Los Angeles. She pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to cultivate, distribute and possess marijuana.

Viengkham did not talk as she left the federal courthouse along with her court appointed attorney. We caught up with her last year, moments after the drugs were found and she was arrested.

Viengkham: "Why they take me too?"

Reporter: "For the transporting of the drugs."

Viengkham: "What drugs?"

Last November, Action News traveled to Dallas, Texas where sheriff's deputies took down the drug trafficking enterprise that began in Fresno County.

Tony Capozzi is representing Lorena Duane. She's the woman deputies say drove the Toyota 4Runner 1500 miles through four states. She was not in court Friday morning.

Capozzi said, "Lorena Duane, Timothy's wife, lives in Texas. She has a waiver where she doesn't have to come to court every time. But because there's new charges, she has to be here. I didn't ask her to be here today, but she'll be here on the 20th."

Investigators say Kay Viengkham was a passenger in the car driven by Lorena. Undercover officers say the two drove 26 hours straight from Fresno to Texas with duffel bags filled with marijuana. Sheriff's investigators say they stopped only to get gas and use the restroom.

Texas law enforcement estimated the value of the drugs to be up to a half a million dollars.

Bounsou Vorasane pleaded not guilty Friday. He was arrested in Fresno at the Northwest Fresno residence where investigators say the drugs were grown in an elaborate indoor operation.

The federal case will move forward even without the main defendant and man who Fresno County Sheriff's investigators say organized the drug deal. Timothy Duane ran away after promising a Texas magistrate that he would fly to Fresno to face the charges.

"He may have fled the country. He may have no longer been in the states," said Capozzi. "He could be in Mexico, he could be in Thailand or Laos, we just don't know."

In court much of the discussion was centered on the confidential informant who provided the information to investigators. The tip led to the bust. Prosecutors want to keep that person's name private on reports given to the defense.

If the four defendants are convicted, they face mandatory minimum prison terms of five years and up to 40 years.

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