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US sanctions Afghan narcotics trafficking network

Last updated on: June 21, 2012 00:46 IST

The United States on Wednesday slapped sanctions on an Afghan drug trafficking network and designated two leaders -- Shah Mohammad Barakzai and Haji Baz Mohammad -- as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers.

The US treasury department also designated under the Kingpin Act two other individuals and entities located in Afghanistan for their support to Shah Mohammad Barakzai and his organisation.

The Act prohibits US persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals and entities, and it freezes any assets the designees may have under US jurisdiction.

Barakzai was arrested and sentenced for operating as a narcotics trafficker in Afghanistan in 2011 by Afghan counter narcotics authorities.

Wednesday's action targets Barakzai's network and its illicit financial activity, the Treasury said.

"Wednesday's designation builds on Afghan efforts to disrupt heroin trafficking from Afghanistan," Treasury's Foreign Assets Control Director Adam Szubin said. Barakzai is the head of a drug trafficking organisation based in Gereshk, Afghanistan.

In addition to Barakzai, who has been convicted and sentenced in Afghanistan for operating as a narcotics trafficker, Treasury also named three of his associates: Abdul 'Doctor' Hadi, who used his pharmaceutical background to process opium for Barakzai's network; Haji Baz Mohammad, who controls opium cultivation and transportation for the network; and Mohammad Wali, who served as the main financial conduit for the network in Kandahar.

Also named as part of the network are two exchange houses used by Barakzai's organisation.

They include Barakzai's exchange house, New Ahmadi Ltd, and the Mohammad Wali Money Exchange controlled by his associate Mohammad Wali. Internationally, the department has designated more than 1,100 businesses and individuals linked to drug kingpins since June 2000.

Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to serious criminal penalties.

Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million.

Other individuals may face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Act.

Lalit K Jha in Washington