By Jim Kouri
An Afghan narco-terrorist with suspected ties to the Taliban was convicted in a Washington, DC, courtroom by a federal jury on Tuesday. Haji Bagcho was found guilty of conspiracy, smuggling heroin into the United States, and narco-terrorism, according to officials with the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
The 57-year old defendant from Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, was investigated by the DEA for numerous narcotics offenses. The investigation revealed that Bagcho was one of the largest heroin traffickers in the world and manufactured the drug in clandestine laboratories along Afghanistan’s border region with Pakistan, according to the federal indictment.
“Bagcho distributed heroin to at least 25 countries, including the United States and the European Union. The profits from Bagcho’s heroin trafficking were turned over to top member of the Taliban to fund their ongoing battle with the US-led coalition troops, the DEA agents testified in court,” according to a District of Columbia police officer who requested anonymity.
Between 2005 and 2010, U.S. drug enforcement agents worked with their Afghan counterparts conducting an investigation of Bagcho’s drug gang. Undercover DEA agents, with the assistance of confidential informants, purchased narcotics from Bagcho’s underlings in two operations. Bagcho was led to believe by the agents that the heroin was destined for the streets of U.S. cities, according to Justice Department records.
The DEA and the Afghan police also conducted several searches of several homes own by Bagcho and his associates. They succeeded in recovering solid evidence of narcotics trafficking, according to trial testimony.
During one such search, the agents discovered ledgers belonging to the defendant. One ledger, cataloguing Bagcho’s activities during 2006, reflected heroin transactions of more than 123,000 kilograms, worth more than $250 million, according to Bagcho’s ledger, which was entered into evidence with an accompanying English language translation.
Based on heroin production statistics compiled by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime for 2006, the defendant’s trafficking accounted for approximately 20% of the world’s total production for that year, according to the court records.
The investigation also revealed that for over several years, “Bagcho used a portion of his drug proceeds to provide the former Taliban governor of Nangarhar Province and two Taliban commanders responsible for insurgent activity in eastern Afghanistan with cash, weapons and other supplies so that they could continue their jihad against western troops and the Afghan government,” a drug enforcement officer told the Law Enforcement Examiner.
“Haji Bagcho was a prolific and dangerous heroin manufacturer, trafficking in over 123,000 kilograms of the drug in 2006 alone,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer in a press statement.
“Moreover, he used proceeds from his crimes to fund Taliban insurgents and fuel their ongoing ‘jihad’ against the United States and others. The effects of Bagcho’s criminal activity were felt all over the world, and today’s guilty verdict ensures that he will serve a lengthy prison term,” noted Breuer.
Bagcho was extradited to the United States on June 24, 2009. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled before the District Court Judge Ellen S. Huvelle on June 12, 2012. Bagcho will continue to be detained by the federal government until that time.