A man accused of being a drug lord with links to the Taliban has become the first Afghan citizen to be extradited to the United States, according to prosecutors in New York.
Baz Mohammad, 47, is accused of conspiring to import more than 25 million US dollars worth of heroin into the United States since 1990. Mohammad says he is innocent of the charges but if found guilty, he faces life in prison.
US president George W. Bush has called Mohammad one of the world's most wanted drug kingpins. He was charged on two counts of conspiring to violate US narcotics laws since 1990.
According to an indictment unsealed in the Manhattan federal court, Mohammad controlled opium fields in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province and used laboratories in Afghanistan and Pakistan to process the opium into heroin before smuggling it to the United States.
His organisation provided financial support to Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers and "related Islamist-extremist organisations in Afghanistan," in exchange for the Taliban providing protection to its drug crops, the indictment states.
Mohammad was arrested in Afghanistan in January and was extradited to the US last week. He is the first person brought from Afghanistan to face US charges. At the hearing, Mohammad pleaded not guilty, AKI reports.