Afghan drug trafficker linked to Taliban jailed in US


A US judge sentenced an Afghan man to life in prison Tuesday for trafficking heroin to more than 20 countries and using the proceeds to fund and arm the Taliban.
Haji Bagcho was convicted in March after a probe found he led a large-scale drug production and distribution ring and funneled cash, weapons and other supplies to the former Taliban governor of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province and two Taliban commanders, according to the US Justice Department.
“Today’s life sentence is an appropriate punishment for one of the most notorious heroin traffickers in the world,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said.
In addition to handing down the sentence, US district judge Ellen Huvelle for the District of Columbia also ordered Bagcho to forfeit both $254.2 million in drug proceeds and his property in Afghanistan.
In 2006, Bagcho was responsible for almost 20 percent of the world’s heroin production and made $250 million that year alone.
Bagcho, whose operations began in the 1990s, produced heroin in secret laboratories along Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan. He was extradited to the United States from Afghanistan in May 2009 and charged in January 2010.
Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the world’s opium, the raw ingredient used to make heroin.
With US-led NATO combat troops due to pull out of the country by the end of 2014, there are fears drug trafficking across Afghan borders could grow.