Big US drug target nabbed in London in trafficking operation
Muhammad Asif Hafeez was a long-time DEA priority target who trafficked in drugs "on a massive and global scale"
NEW YORK — A longtime target of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration known as the "Sultan" has been arrested in London on charges he aided a massive drug trafficking operation, authorities announced Friday.
Manhattan federal prosecutors said the U.S. will seek Muhammad Asif Hafeez's extradition to New York City to face charges including conspiracy to import heroin into the United States, conspiracy to import methamphetamine and aiding and abetting the distribution of heroin. If convicted, he could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison on each charge.
In a release, Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said Hafeez was a long-time DEA priority target who trafficked in drugs "on a massive and global scale," helping manufacture and distribute enormous quantities of heroin and methamphetamine, including to the United States.
"From Kenya and Mozambique to London and New York, Hafeez's alleged drug operation saw no borders or boundaries — until now," Kim said.
Raymond Donovan, agent in charge of the DEA's Special Operations Division, called the arrest "another win in the fight against global criminals and one of DEA's priority targets."
He added: "Removing criminals like Hafeez benefits not just the citizens of London, but communities worldwide."
Authorities said the 58-year-old Pakistani national, who was living in London, conspired to distribute drugs since at least 2013.
Prosecutors said Hafeez and some co-conspirators tried to establish a methamphetamine-production facility in Mozambique as part of the conspiracy to import methamphetamine into the United States, but were forced to abandon the plan after law enforcement authorities seized about 18 tons of ephedrine from a factory in Solapur, India. Authorities said Hafeez and his co-conspirators had planned to use several tons of ephedrine as a precursor chemical to manufacture methamphetamine in Mozambique.
It wasn't immediately clear whether he has a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.