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Two Afghan men plead guilty to conspiring to import heroin into the United States

JUN 29 (WASHINGTON, D.C.) – DEA Special Operations Division Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan and Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim today announced that Lajbar Lajward Khan, a/k/a “Haji Lajaward,” and Amal Said Alam Shah, a/k/a “Haji Zar Mohammad,” pled guilty to conspiring to import heroin into the United States, and to distributing heroin with the intent to import into the United States. Lajaward and Said pled guilty yesterday to a Superseding Indictment in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood.

“The United States has been besieged by traffickers bringing drugs into our country,” said DEA Special Operations Division Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan.  “Through close cooperation with our foreign counterparts, the United States brought these international drug-traffickers to justice, taking another step in keeping illegal and harmful drugs out of the hands of Americans.”

According to court documents, between May 2014 and June 2015, Lajaward and Said worked together in an effort to import large quantities of heroin—in the range of 1,000 kilograms—from Afghanistan into the United States. In August 2014, Lajaward began communicating by telephone with an undercover agent of the DEA (the “UC”).  Lajaward told the UC that he was interested in supplying large quantities of high-quality heroin for importation into the United States, where it would be sold for millions of dollars. In the course of the calls between Lajaward and the UC, Lajaward introduced the UC to one of Lajaward’s heroin-trafficking associates, Said.

On October 30, 2014, Lajaward continued to express his interest in supplying large quantities of heroin to the UC for importation into the United States, and Lajaward offered to supply a sample of heroin to the UC, as a test shipment to be sold in the United States. 
During recorded calls, Lajaward, Said, and the UC agreed that the delivery of the three-kilogram heroin sample would occur in Kabul on or about January 15, 2015. On that day, an undercover Afghan law enforcement officer, acting at the direction of the DEA and posing as an associate of the UC, met with Lajaward and one of Lajaward’s associates in Kabul and received delivery of the three-kilogram heroin sample. At the same time, more than 1,000 miles away in Dubai, the UC met with another associate of Lajaward to pay for the heroin sample, as had been arranged during recorded calls between the UC and Lajaward. At that meeting, the UC paid $10,500 to the associate for the heroin sample. 

About two weeks later, on January 28, 2015, Said met with the UC in Dubai. Said discussed the heroin sample that the DTO had recently supplied for importation into the United States, stated that the DTO was prepared to supply 1,000 kilograms of heroin to the UC, and indicated that it would only take the DTO about 15 days to produce 100 kilograms of heroin for shipment to the United States.
On April 2, 2015, Said met again with the UC in Dubai where they negotiated additional details of the agreement for the DTO to supply massive quantities of heroin for importation into the United States, indicating that Lajaward and Said would share in the profits generated from the sale of the heroin in the United States. 
In June 2015, Lajaward and Said traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, to meet with the UC. On June 13, 2015, Lajaward and Said were arrested in Bangkok by Thai authorities based on the charges in this case, at the request of U.S. authorities. Lajaward and Said were later brought to the United States to face the charges against them.
Lajaward and Said each face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only. Sentencing will be determined by a judge and is scheduled for Nov. 1, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. before Judge Wood.

This prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rebekah Donaleski and George D. Turner are in charge of the prosecution.

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