A California marijuana bust led police to arrest an ex-convict whose extensive face tattoos immediately gave him away as a gang member.
Khamprasong Thammavong, 33, was arrested in the San Joaquin valley after police found guns and dozens of marijuana plants at his house, authorities said. He was booked into the Fresno County Jail on several serious felony charges, including being a felon in possession of a gun and cannabis cultivation, police said.
Thammavong was pulled over by Fresno police officers on the afternoon of March 8. During the traffic stop, they discovered he was a known member of the Laos Blood gang and was on probation for earlier non-violent convictions. The officers asked him for his address and went to his home. Because Thammavong was under probation, police were able to search the house without a warrant.
Thammavong was on probation
During the stop, police quickly deduced Thammavong was a gang member thanks to the extensive gang-related tattoos on his face and scalp. Apparently he had tried to avoid arrest in the past, but was easily given away by his ink.
Once they were inside his home, police found further proof of gang membership as well as guns and pictures of Thammavong holding the guns, which included a semi-automatic rifle and a semi-automatic handgun. They also found several pieces of tactical gear similar to those used by law enforcement.
Authorities said Thammavong was growing 38 marijuana plants inside the house, and officers also discovered drug paraphernalia there. Thammavong was not the registered owner of the guns, meaning he probably got them illegally, police said. He also lacked a permit to grow cannabis while on probation.
The case was referred to Fresno narcotics detectives and code enforcement officers for further investigation. Thammavong was being held on bail as of early March.
‘GUCCI’ tattooed on his forehead
Elaborate tattoos cover most of Thammavong’s face and head, including the word “GUCCI” across his forehead. Gucci is apparently a gang reference, as are several of the other tattoos on his face.
Fresno and Fresno County are notoriously stringent when it comes to cannabis. Commercial and private grows are completely banned, despite the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which explicitly allows marijuana grows for medicine.
Naturally, this prohibition encourages a gang presence, since members are willing to cultivate while other residents aren’t. Much of this product is sold locally, undercutting the grow ban.
But this could all change if full cannabis legalization passes at the ballot box in November. Local communities would still be allowed to prohibit dispensaries and cultivation, but only if residents vote in favor of a ban.
Do you think Fresno County’s strict cannabis laws encourage gang activity? Post a comment below.