February 16, 2006
Contact: SA Heath Anderson
Phone Number: (202) 305-8500
Pakistan Father Sentenced to Life and Son Sentenced to 30 Years in International Heroin Trafficking Scheme
Pakistani Defendants Extradited From Thailand More Than 40 Kilograms of Heroin Seized in U.S., Great Britain
FEB 16-- Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of DEA’s Washington Division, Shawn A. Johnson, announced the sentencing of Muzaffar Khan Afridi, age 59, to life in prison and his son, Alamdar Khan Afridi, age 29, to 30 years in prison on charges relating to their family’s international heroin trafficking organization by United States District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Both men were convicted after a four-week trial in December 2005 of conspiracy to distribute and import one kilogram or more of heroin; three counts of distribution of heroin; and eight counts of using a communications facility (telephone of fax) to facilitate heroin offenses. Both men are from Pakistan.
“This investigation clearly demonstrates the Drug Enforcement Administration’s goal to dismantle drug trafficking organizations at the highest level and sends a clear message that there is no safe haven for them anywhere in the world,” stated SAC Johnson.
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein stated, “These criminals were brought to justice through the cooperation of law enforcement agencies in this country and our colleagues in England, Thailand, and Canada. This should send a message to other international drug smugglers that we are committed to stopping the flow if illegal drugs into the United States.”
Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office, Kevin L. Perkins, stated, “This case was one of the most fruitful investigations conducted by the DEA, FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, stretching across International boundaries, and resulting in safer communities in the United States and abroad. The outstanding relationship developed by FBI Special Agents with the DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office was instrumental in the successful conclusion of this investigation.”
According to evidence presented during their trial, the Afridis distributed hundreds of kilograms of heroin to the Untied States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. Beginning in early 2001, a cooperating witness (“CW”) working with the DEA and FBI negotiated to purchase heroin from Waiz Ul-Din Wardak, age 37, a resident of Peshawar, Pakistan, who previously pleased guilty to conspiracy charges. Wardak served as a middleman while the Afridis caused the heroin to be carried from Pakistan to Canada by a courier who lived in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. On July 20, 2001, the courier delivered 1.4 kilograms of extremely high-purity heroin to the CW at a restaurant in Beltsville, Maryland. During the delivery, the courier telephoned the Afridis at their compound – located in a village a few kilometers outside of Peshawar. Following the delivery, the CW began negotiating directly with the Afridis for future heroin shipments. On August 14, 2002, the same courier delivered an additional 1.9 kilograms of heroin to the same restaurant in Beltsville. The CW turned the heroin over to the DEA and FBI.
At a series of meetings in the fall of 2002 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the Afridis negotiated to sell the CW an additional 50 kilograms of heroin, to be delivered in London, United Kingdom. The first shipment of approximately 19.8 kilograms of heroin was shipped from Pakistan through Qatar to London in January 2003, hidden in the struts of 10 wooden crates containing soccer balls, weightlifting belts, and other sporting goods. Unbeknownst to the Afridis, the recipient was an undercover agent for Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise, who was working with the DEA and FBI. Other British Customs agents examined the crates and found 120 packages of heroin buried in the struts. At the time of the delivery, the Afridis sent a series of faxes to the CW, including a diagram showing exactly where the heroin was hidden in the struts of the wooden crates.
In March 2003, British Customs seized an additional 17.7 kilograms of heroin that the Afridis were shipping to Cameroon, West Africa. Unaware of the seizure, the Afridis tried to sell this heroin to the CW. In April 2003, a federal grand jury in Greenbelt returned a sealed indictment charging the Afridis and other with narcotics offenses. A judge issued sealed arrest warrants. In August 2003, the CW and law enforcement agents lured the Afridis and other co-conspirators to a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, with the promise that debts would be paid.
On August 29, 2003, at the request of the U.S. government and pursuant to provisional arrest warrants, officers of the Thai Narcotics and Money Laundering Police arrested the Afridis and co-conspirators. While in custody, Alamdar Afridi admitted his involvement in drug trafficking to American agents, while Muzaffar Afridi told co-conspirators in a Thai jail about a distribution organization that included airline pilots and other couriers and shipped hundreds of kilograms of heroin around the world each year. Muzaffar Afridi also described personally supervising the preparation of heroin at processing laboratories located along the Pakistani-Afghanistan border. In February 2004, a Thai court extradited the Afridis to the United States.
Earlier in the case, Zalmai Ibrahimi, age 47, of Laurel, Maryland, Mohammad Khalid Azizi, age 32, of Bangkok, and Waiz Ul-Din Wardak pleaded guilty to heroin conspiracy charges. Ibrahimi and Wardak were sentenced today to 78 months and 57 months in prison, respectively, followed by 5 years of supervised release. Azizi was sentenced to 43 months in prison.
Qadar Qudus of Fremont, California, pleaded guilty to money laundering in connection with the transmittal of funds to the Afridis via the “hawala” informal money transfer system and was sentenced to 20 months in prison. Rafiullah Habibi of Alexandria, Virginia pleaded guilty to operating an illegal hawala at the Afghan Market in Alexandra and to a Travel Act violation and was sentenced to 6 ½ months in prison. The heroin courier, Mohammad Idris of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, is a fugitive and is believed to be in Pakistan.
DEA SAC Johnson also wishes to recognize the contributions of the FBI, the U.S. Attorneys’ Office, and the numerous American and foreign government agencies who assisted in the investigation and prosecution, including Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in the United Kingdom; the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, Royal Thai Police; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which conducted crucial surveillance of the drug courier; and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, which coordinated the provisional arrest and extradition proceedings.