July 17, 2015
Contact: National Media Affairs Office
Phone Number: (202) 307-7977
Afghan Heroin Conspiracy Foiled
WASHINGTON - The Drug Enforcement (DEA) today announced charges against three significant Afghan heroin traffickers, two of which were arrested in Thailand and subsequently brought to the United States. Haji Lajaward, Amal Said Said Alam Shah, a/k/a “Haji Zar Mohammad,” and Habibullah were charged with conspiring to import heroin into the United States. Lajaward and Shah were arrested in Thailand on June 13, 2015, and subsequently brought to the United States. They will be presented and arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis this afternoon. Habibullah remains at large.
“Like many international criminal networks, these alleged drug traffickers have no respect for borders, and no regard for either the rule of law or who they harm as a result of their criminal endeavors,” said Mark Hamlet, the DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Special Operations Division. “This investigation highlights the significance of Afghanistan as a source for heroin around the world. I wish to thank all of our international law enforcement partners for their outstanding efforts and partnership in dismantling this sophisticated and dangerous international criminal enterprise.”
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “At a time when heroin use and overdose deaths are on the rise in our communities, these three men allegedly conspired to import into this country kilogram quantities of heroin from Afghanistan. I want to thank the DEA for their excellent work in investigating this matter.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment, the defendants and others conspired between May 2014 and April 2015 to violate U.S. narcotics laws prohibiting the importation of heroin. Specifically, the Indictment charges Lajaward, Shah, and Habibullah with conspiring (i) import one or more kilograms of heroin into the United States from a foreign country; (ii) distribute one or more kilograms of heroin knowing and intending that it would be imported into the United States.
As alleged in the Indictment, on January 15, 2015, Lajaward caused the delivery of three kilograms of heroin to another individual in Kabul, Afghanistan, while, on the same day, Habibullah received payment for that heroin in the United Arab Emirates. Later that day, Lajaward and Shah spoke on the phone regarding the heroin transaction.
The charge in the Indictment carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge
Leading the investigation were DEA’s Special Operations Division; the DEA’s Kabul, Dubai, Tokyo, and Bangkok Country Offices; the DEA’s New York Field Division; the CNP-A Sensitive Investigative Unit of the Afghan Ministry of the Interior; the Dubai Police Department and the Anti-Narcotics Unit of the Emirati Ministry of Interior; Japan’s National Police Agency and the Saitama Prefectural Police; Thailand’s Sensitive Investigative Unit of the Royal Thai Police Narcotics Suppression Bureau; Thailand’s Attorney General’s Office; Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; INTERPOL; the U.S. Department of State; and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs.