- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2007

An Afghan heroin kingpin has been sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison for managing an international drug-trafficking operation that imported millions of dollars worth of heroin into the U.S.

Baz Mohammad, the first person ever extradited to the U.S. from Afghanistan, was sentenced Friday in federal court in New York after President Bush designated him a foreign drug kingpin under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

The act gives the president the authority to make such designations when he determines that a foreign narcotics trafficker presents a threat to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the U.S. Afghan President Hamid Karzai authorized the extradition in October 2005.

U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia in New York said Mohammad, 51, pleaded guilty in Manhattan, admitting that between 1990 and 2005 he led an organization that arranged for heroin to be transported out of Afghanistan and Pakistan into the U.S. hidden inside suitcases, clothing and containers.

Once the heroin arrived in this country, Mr. Garcia said other members of the organization received and distributed the drugs, then arranged for millions of dollars to be laundered back to Mohammad and other members of the organization in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mr. Garcia said the organization, closely aligned with the Taliban, provided financial support to the Islamic group during the course of the conspiracy. More specifically, he said, between 1994 and 2000, the organization collected heroin proceeds in the U.S. for the Taliban. In exchange, he said, the Taliban provided the organization protection for its opium crops, heroin laboratories, drug-transportation routes and its members and associates.

In 1990, Mr. Garcia said Mohammad discussed heroin trafficking with other members of the organization in his Karachi, Pakistan, residence, telling his co-conspirators that selling heroin in the U.S. was a “jihad” because the group was taking the Americans’ money and the heroin was killing them.

“Today’s sentencing is a gratifying conclusion to an important prosecution that would not have been possible without unprecedented cooperation between law-enforcement authorities in the United States and Afghanistan,” Mr. Garcia said.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chief Karen P. Tandy said the sentencing demonstrates the commitment by the U.S. and Afghanistan to “destroy the hold opium lords have” on that country.

“This drug kingpin bragged that he waged jihad against Americans by poisoning them with his heroin. His attack was unconventional, and his massive drug profits funded the Taliban and other extremist organizations dedicated to destroying freedom and justice,” she said. “As Mohammad loses his own freedom, he begins a long, hands-on lesson in the certainty of American justice.”

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