An Afghan national who distributed nearly 20 percent of the world's heroin in 2006 and supported the Taliban was convicted Tuesday and faces a 20-year prison sentence.
A jury returned the guilty verdict to Haji Bagcho, who is now in his 60s, on counts of conspiracy, distribution of heroin for importation into the United States and narco-terrorism, federal authorities announced.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigated Bagcho, who manufactured the drug in clandestine laboratories along Afghanistan's border region with Pakistan. Bagcho sent heroin to more than 20 countries, including the U.S. Proceeds from his heroin trafficking were then used to support high-level members of the Taliban to further their insurgency in Afghanistan.
The DEA began a five-year investigation of Bagcho's organization in 2005 with the cooperation with Afghan authorities. During a 2007 raid of a home of one of Bagcho's associates, authorities recovered a ledger showing $250 million in sales of 137 tons of heroin in 2006. That represented 20% of world sales, according to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime for 2006.
The investigation also obtained evidence that Bagcho used his drug proceeds to provide cash, weapons, and other suppliers to the former Taliban governor of Nangarhar Province and two Taliban commanders in eastern Afghanistan so that they could continue their jihad against western troops and the Afghan government.
"Now Haji Bagcho will serve time behind bars on the same soil he sought to destroy with his drugs, and whose troops he sought to kill through his support to the Taliban," said Michele M. Leonhart, DEA administrator, in a statement. "DEA stands committed to stopping narco-traffickers, like Bagcho, and their funding of terror."
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 12.