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Arresting An Afghan Drug Leader


A major Afghan drug trafficker has been arrested in New York City. U.S. officials say that Haji Bashir Noorzai is being charged with smuggling more than fifty-million dollars worth of heroin from Afghanistan to the United States.

Mr. Noorzai is a former confidante of ousted Taleban leader Mullah Omar and reportedly was a major financial supporter of the deposed Taleban regime. U.S. Congressman Mark Kirk said in a statement prepared for a 2004 congressional hearing that Mr. Noorzai's Kandahar-based trafficking organization supplies al-Qaida terrorist operatives in Pakistan with "two-thousand kilograms of heroin every eight weeks." In 2004, Mr. Noorzai was added to the list of significant foreign drug traffickers targeted by U.S. enforcement agencies.

John Gilbride is special agent in charge of the New York office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He says that Haji Bashir Noorzai's network "shipped. . . .heroin, not only to the United States, but other countries throughout the world":

"Noorzai controlled the poppies, the poppy fields, the heroin laboratories, as well as the transportation routes. So, it is similar to a cartel, in terms of all aspects, from the beginning to the end, from the growing of the poppies to the heroin hitting the streets of New York City, or any other city in the world, are controlled by the organization."

Nearly ninety percent of the poppies used in the production of illegal heroin are grown in Afghanistan. A recent survey found that "eighty-five percent of Afghan mullahs oppose having heroin be part of their. . . .economy." Mirwais Yasini, head of Afghanistan's counter-narcotics directorate, says illegal drug production is undermining Afghanistan's standing in the world. He says, "Afghanistan cannot live with this dragon any more."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.

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