US Marijuana Party

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Afghan 'drug lord' handed to US


An alleged drug lord with reported links to the Taleban has become the first Afghan citizen to be extradited to the US, prosecutors in New York say.

Baz Mohammad is accused of heading an international cartel responsible for taking more than $25m (£14m) worth of heroin into the US and other countries.

He is alleged to have said that selling heroin in the US was an act of "jihad", or holy war, against America.

Mr Mohammad, 47, says he is innocent. He faces life in prison if convicted.

'Clear message'

Mr Mohammad was extradited from Afghanistan late last week, US federal prosecutors announced on Monday.

He is accused on two counts of conspiring to violate US narcotics laws since 1990.

According to an indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court, Mr Mohammad controlled opium fields in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, processed the opium into heroin and shipped it into the US.

He is also alleged to have told members of his organisation that "selling heroin in the US was a jihad because they took the Americans' money and at the same time the heroin they sold was killing them".

The prosecution believes Mr Mohammad had close links to the Taleban regime that was ousted from power during the US-led invasion in 2001.

"The extradition... is an historic step in our work with the Afghan people to end the dual threat of narco-terrorism," said US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Mr Gonzales said the move also "sends a clear message to drug lords around the world: those who seek to destroy American lives will be brought to justice".

At his arraignment, Mr Mohammad pleaded not guilty to all charges.

"I am innocent," he said through a translator.

A further hearing is scheduled on 14 November.


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