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Notorious Afghan drug trafficker jailed to life in US

June 13, 2012 20:06 IST
One of the world's most notorious heroin traffickers, who ran clandestine laboratories along Afghanistan's porous border with Pakistan and sent the drug to over 20 countries, has been sentenced to life by a United States court for using the proceeds to fund and arm the Taliban.

Haji Bagcho, 70, an Afghan national responsible for almost 20 per cent of the world's heroin production, was sentenced by US District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle in the District of Columbia on Tuesday.

In addition to his prison term, Bagcho was ordered to forfeit $254,203,032 in drug proceeds along with his property in Afghanistan.

Bagcho was sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to distribute heroin to the United States and for using drug proceeds to fund, arm and supply the Taliban, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and Administrator Michele M Leonhart of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"Haji Bagcho led a massive drug production and trafficking operation that supplied heroin in more than 20 countries, including the US," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said.

"In 2006 alone, he conducted heroin transactions worth more than $250 million. Bagcho used the profits of his narcotics trafficking operation to support high-level Taliban commanders in Afghanistan. The life sentence is an appropriate punishment for one of the most notorious heroin traffickers in the world," Breuer said.

Afghanistan produces about 90 per cent of the world's opium, the raw ingredient used to make heroin.

"One of the world's most prolific drug traffickers who helped fund the Taliban will spend his remaining days behind bars in a US prison due to the relentless efforts of DEA, our Afghan counterparts and our prosecuting partners," the Drug Enforcement Administration administrator Michele Leonhart said.     

Bagcho was convicted by a jury on March 13, 2012, after a three week trial. He was charged in a superseding indictment on January 28, 2010, after his arrest and extradition to the United States from Afghanistan in May 2009.

DEA's investigation has revealed that Bagcho made the drug in clandestine laboratories along Afghanistan's border region with Pakistan.

Bagcho used a portion of his drug proceeds to provide cash, weapons and other supplies to the former Taliban governor of Nangarhar Province and two Taliban commanders responsible for insurgent activity in eastern Afghanistan, so that they could continue their "jihad" against western troops and the Afghan government, the US Justice Department said in a release.




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