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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Former Head Of Pakistani Drug Trafficking Network Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison For Narcotics Offenses

Shahbaz Khan Sought to Import Tens of Thousands of Kilograms of Heroin into the United States for Distribution in New York City and Elsewhere

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that SHAHBAZ KHAN (“KHAN”) was sentenced to 15 years for conspiring and attempting to import massive quantities of heroin into the United States.  KHAN was taken into custody by Liberian authorities on December 1, 2016, and expelled to the United States later that day, based on a pending Complaint in this District.  He previously pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield, who imposed today’s sentence.    

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated:  “Shahbaz Khan was an international drug kingpin who distributed staggering quantities of narcotics from southwest Asia to countries throughout the world.  In 2016, he agreed to transport tens of thousands of kilograms of heroin to New York City.  Today’s sentence shows that we will continue to seek justice against those who flood our communities with heroin and other deadly, highly addictive drugs that fuel the opioid epidemic plaguing this city.”

According to the Complaint, the Superseding Indictment, and other filings in this case:

KHAN, a Pakistani national, was the leader of a drug trafficking organization (the “DTO”) based in Afghanistan and Pakistan that produced and distributed massive quantities of narcotics around the world.  In 2007, KHAN was designated a Narcotics Kingpin under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act by then-President George W. Bush.  In total, KHAN and the DTO distributed hundreds of tons of drugs. 

Between approximately August and December 2016, KHAN conspired to send tens of thousands of kilograms of heroin hidden in maritime shipping containers and air cargo shipments to New York City.  KHAN spent weeks negotiating the shipments with individuals he understood to be customers of the DTO, who were in fact confidential sources (the “CSes”) working for the Drug Enforcement Administration (the “DEA”).  The CSes told KHAN that they worked with a New York City-based drug trafficker – who, unbeknownst to KHAN, was a DEA undercover agent (“UC-1”) – and that UC-1 was looking for a new source of supply for large quantities of heroin.  In August 2016, the CSes told KHAN that UC-1 was interested in purchasing up to 300 kilograms of heroin per week from KHAN and the DTO.  KHAN bragged to the CSes about his decades-long experience in international drug trafficking, including that he had once transported 114 tons of drugs in a single year, including 64 tons of hashish. 

Within weeks of first meeting the CSes, KHAN traveled to the Maldives to meet with UC-1 and the CSes.  During the course of these meetings, KHAN explained the various ways that he could transport heroin to UC-1.  KHAN suggested, for example, that he could ship heroin from Pakistan to a transshipment point in Africa, where UC-1 would receive the heroin and have it shipped to the United States.  KHAN further explained that he could ship narcotics “wherever” UC-1 wanted, and emphasized that “if you tell me America, I will send it to America.”

In October 2016, KHAN provided a five-kilogram sample of high-quality heroin to the CSes in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Within weeks of providing the sample, KHAN traveled to Liberia to meet with UC-1 and to examine a supposed warehouse that could serve as a transshipment point for their future heroin deals.  While in transit to Liberia, KHAN explained to UC-1 that he could ship up to 10,000 kilograms at a time, and that it was just as easy for him to ship 10,000 kilograms as it was to ship 1,000 kilograms.  Once KHAN landed in Liberia, he was arrested and expelled to the United States.   

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In addition to the prison term, KHAN, 71, was sentenced to five years of supervised release.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the DEA’s Special Operations Division’s Bilateral Investigations Unit; the DEA Accra, Canberra, Sydney, Dubai, Islamabad, Kabul, Nairobi, and New Delhi Country Offices; the DEA New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Financial Investigative Team; the Government of Liberia; the Liberian Drug Enforcement Agency; the DEA Nairobi Country Office Kenyan Vetted Unit; the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission; and the Maldives Police Service. 

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shawn G. Crowley, Rebekah Donaleski, and Jason A. Richman are in charge of the prosecution.

Drug Trafficking
Nicholas Biase, James Margolin (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
Updated November 5, 2019