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Registered: 07/26/04
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Afghan drug kingpin has been arrested
    #4094755 - 04/25/05 12:40 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Afghan drug kingpin has been arrested
April 25, 2005

An alleged Afghan heroin drug lord who made a fortune by forging an alliance with the Taliban was arrested while traveling to the United States, federal authorities said Monday.

Bashir Noorzai -- previously identified by President Bush as one of the world's most wanted drug kingpins -- was in custody in New York and awaiting arraignment later Monday on charges he tried to smuggle 500 kilograms of heroin with a value of more than $50 million into the United States.

An indictment alleges Noorzai and "has a symbiotic relationship" with the Taliban, U.S. Attorney David Kelley said at a news conference.

Between 1990 and 2004, the defendant and his organization "provided demolitions, weapons and manpower to the Taliban," Kelly said. "In exchange, the Taliban allowed Noorzai's business to flourish."

The Taliban protected Noorzai's opium crops, its heroin laboratories in Afghanistan and Pakistan and its drug transportation routes out of the country, prosecutors said.

In 1997, Taliban authorities "seized a truckload of 'morphine base' that was owned by Noorzai," the indictment said. But the drugs were quickly returned "with personal apologies from Mullah Mohammad Omar, the leader of the Taliban," the indictment added.

Kelley declined to give details about Noorzai's capture. He also refused to comment on reports that the defendant has ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

"It's not something that's part of the case," Kelly said.

Last year, the White House added Noorzai and nine other people and organizations to the most wanted list, bringing the number of those designated on the list to 48 since it was started in 2000.

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