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Press Release

Large-Scale Iranian Heroin Trafficker Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MALEK BALOUCHZEHI, a/k/a “Malek Khan,” was sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiring to import heroin into the United States and distributing heroin for importation into the United States.  BALOUCHZEHI was convicted after a one-week jury trial in May 2023 before U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman, who imposed today’s sentence.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Malek Balouchzehi was in the business of peddling poison.  His drug trafficking operations had already brought large-scale quantities of deadly narcotics around the world for at least a decade, but when he sought to expand his operation to the United States, our law enforcement allies, in partnership with the career prosecutors of this Office, swiftly put an end to his life-endangering trade.”

According to court documents and the evidence presented at the trial of BALOUCHZEHI:

BALOUCHZEHI is an Iran-based drug trafficker.  In or about September 2019, BALOUCHZEHI and his associate began communicating with individuals whom BALOUCHZEHI believed were heroin traffickers interested in large quantities of heroin for importation into the United States, as well as methamphetamine for distribution in Australia.  Those individuals were, in fact, a confidential source working at the direction of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) and an undercover DEA agent posing as a New York-based heroin distributor.  In December 2019, BALOUCHZEHI caused a sample of approximately two kilograms of heroin to be delivered in Mozambique with the understanding that those drugs would be transported to the United States for testing and sale.  Following this sample shipment, BALOUCHZEHI planned to supply larger quantities of heroin for importation to and distribution within the United States.  In meetings in Nairobi, Kenya, in October 2021, BALOUCHZEHI agreed to distribute ton quantities of heroin for importation to New York and to provide the heroin via maritime routes, using a fishing company to conceal his narcotics activities, in order to make millions in profits.  During these meetings in Nairobi, BALOUCHZEHI also described his prior international drug trafficking activities over the last decade, including transporting loads of thousands of kilograms of heroin, and showed photographs evidencing his large-scale trafficking operation.

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In addition to the prison term, BALOUCHZEHI, 40, of Iran, was sentenced to five years of supervised release.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding efforts of the DEA’s Special Operations Division, Bilateral Investigations Unit, and New York Field Division; the DEA’s Nairobi, Maputo, Pretoria, Bucharest, and Jakarta Country Offices; the Kenyan National Police; the Mozambique National Criminal Investigation Services; and the Western Australia Police Force.  Mr. Williams also thanked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for its assistance.

The case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kaylan E. Lasky, Michael J. Lockard, Kimberly J. Ravener, and Elinor L. Tarlow, with the assistance of Paralegal Specialist Kayla Collins, are in charge of the prosecution.


Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated October 24, 2023

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 23-368