September 15, the US Attorney for the District of Maryland
announced indictments on eleven men for their alleged part
in an international drug trafficking and money laundering
operation, tied to Pakistan and Thailand, that was designed
to put heroin on American streets.
a complex case, run out of the local Organized Crime Drug
Enforcement Task Force that had DEA and FBI investigators
tracking leads from Pakistan to Canada to Thailand, to the
United Arab Emirates, through England, and to the east and
west coasts of the United States. It unraveled elaborate money
laundering schemes through "hawala" transactions
(an underground, paperless banking system of trusted brokers
who oversee the transfer of money from one country to another
without any documented money actually changing hands). It
tracked heroin shipped in crates packed in soccer balls. It
even featured exquisite jewels as part of the enterprise,
including a 10-carat round diamond.
end, though, the full scheme was brought to light and nine
of the 11 men indicted were arrested -- their operation dismantled.
The 22-count indictment seeks $50 million in forfeitures.
Attorney Thomas DiBiagio, District of Maryland, summed it
up perfectly: "We hope these indictments send a message
to all those drug organizations that are supplying hundreds
and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of drugs in Maryland.
We're going to reach out and get you. It doesn't matter that
you're overseas. We're going to get you. You're going to jail
remain: Omar Azizi, a 25-year-old Afghan national residing
in Bangkok, is being sought by the Thai police. Mohammad Idris,
a 70-year-old resident of Hamiltoin, Ontario, Canada, is being
sought by Canadian authorities. If you have any information
about either of these men, please contact your nearest law
enforcement agency to report it.