Source Pravda.Ru

Afghan drug kingpins

An Afghan on the United States' list of most wanted drug kingpins, who allegedly forged a deal with the n&to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/01/09/25121.html ' target=_blank>Taliba in exchange for protection, has been arrested, authorities said Monday.

Bashir Noorzai was in custody in New York and was awaiting arraignment later Monday on charges he tried to smuggle 500 kilograms of heroin with a value of more than $50 million into the United States, authorities said.

An indictment alleges Noorzai and "has a symbiotic relationship" with the Taliban, U.S. Attorney David Kelley said at a news conference. Authorities said he was arrested while traveling to the United States, but declined to give details. Kelley also refused to comment on reports that the defendant has ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network, reports ABC News.

According to CNN News, the U.S. government has designated the Taliban as a terrorist organization. Noorzai is in U.S. custody and is expected to make his first appearance Monday afternoon in federal court in Manhattan, Kelley said. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration arrested Noorzai on Saturday while he was traveling to the United States, Kelley said, offering few other details.

Kelley declined to comment on reported links between the case and al Qaeda.

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