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August 26, 2017

Pakistani drugs ‘Sultan’ faces extradition to US

National

August 26, 2017

LONDON: A suspected Pakistani drugs leader Muhammad Asif Hafeez facing extradition to the United States over allegations that he was leading an international drug syndicate.

National Crime Agency (NCA) said it had arrested the suspected drug kingpin known as "the Sultan" from an address in north London on Friday and will face extradition to the United States, where he is wanted for allegedly conspiring to import class A drugs.

Hafeez, 58, a Pakistani national, is alleged to be the head of an organisation spanning Europe, Africa, Asia and North America, that produced and smuggled drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, or crystal meth, and ephedrine.

The NCA said it worked with the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to investigate Hafeez after he was allegedly identified as the source of large quantities of heroin being smuggled into Kenya from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He is said to have been supplying a family-based narcotics syndicate in Mombasa with what he boasted was “diamond carat”-quality heroin. The family involved had been smuggling drugs into and out of Kenya for decades, according to US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.

Members of the Kenyan gang were allegedly recorded as they agreed to sell 99kg of the Sultan’s heroin to a group of men they thought were South American drug dealers looking to smuggle it into the US, but who were in fact working for the DEA.

Another seizure related to Hafeez’s alleged narcotics trafficking involved the recovery of 18 tonnes of ephedrine in India. The NCA said the allegations he faced included agreeing to smuggle narcotics into the US since at least 2013.

Hafeez is said to own two properties in London, Pakistan, Dubai and in Europe. He was produced at Westminster magistrate’s court on Friday afternoon for the start of extradition proceedings to the US, where he is wanted on charges of conspiring to import drugs. Hashim Chaudhri, prosecuting, said he could face life imprisonment in the US for supply of drugs.

On behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service, Chaudhri opposed bail stating that Hafeez had “significant contacts and assets throughout the world” and a large amount of wealth.

Russell Nicholson, defending, said Hafeez was a businessman and trader who said he was the victim of mistaken identity. He said his client was a respectable man and there was no reason for him to evade legal process.

Nicholson added that Hafeez had no previous convictions in“any jurisdiction in the world” and could offer a £100000 security if granted bail. The district judge, Rebecca Crane, refused bail.

Martin Huxley of the NCA said: “This is a hugely significant arrest of a man suspected of being the head of a global drug production and distribution network, with links across Asia, Europe and North America.

“Because of the scale of the criminality alleged here, this is an international investigation, and the NCA has worked extremely closely with our partners in the US and UK.

“The organised crime groups involved in drug trafficking at this level fuel violence and exploitation at every step, from the locations overseas where drugs are farmed and produced right through to the dealers on UK street corners.”

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