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US indicts Afghan drug kingpin

[JURIST] The US has indicted Haji Bashir Noorzai, an accused Afghan heroin kingpin, in a massive narcotics conspiracy involving Afghanistan's former Taliban regime [Wikipedia profile]. US Attorney David Kelley [official website] announced [Kelley press release, PDF] the indictment against Noorzai, one the world's most wanted drug kingpins [US State Dept. press release]. The seven-page indictment alleges Noorzai of leading an international trafficking ring based in Afghanistan and Pakistan that brought at least $50 million worth of heroin to the United States and other countries. US authorities have previously indicated that Noorzai helped finance al-Qaeda [BBC profile] when it operated in Afghanistan under Taliban protection. Kelley said Noorzai provided demolitions, weaponry and militia manpower to the Taliban before the US-led invasion toppled the regime. Noorzai, who was arrested by the US Drug Enforcement Administration [official website] on Saturday while he was traveling to the United States, will make his first appearance Monday afternoon in federal court in Manhattan. Noorzai, if convicted could face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum possible sentence of life in prison. The government will also seek nearly $50 million in forfeiture of Noorzai's assets as part of the sentence. CNN has more.

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