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Justice News

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

Friday, December 2, 2016

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Arrest Of Pakistani Man For Heroin Importation Offenses

Shahbaz Khan Allegedly Conspired to Send Hundreds of Kilograms of Heroin to the United States for Distribution in New York City

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and James Schrant, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) Special Operations Division, announced today the arrest of SHAHBAZ KHAN for conspiring to import and attempting to import 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 same day.  He was presented before United States Magistrate Judge James L. Cott today. 

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “Shahbaz Khan allegedly had designs on establishing an international narcotics smuggling empire.  As alleged, Khan sought to arrange for five kilos of ‘100% pure’ heroin to be imported to New York from Asia, promising to supply hundreds of kilograms more.  Thanks to the work of the DEA, Khan’s plans have changed dramatically, from arranging massive shipments of heroin to American cities to defending federal narcotics charges in a Manhattan courtroom.”       

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint,[1] which was unsealed today:

Between at least in or about August 2016 and October 2016, KHAN participated in a series of telephone calls and in-person meetings in countries in Southwest Asia with individuals who KHAN believed were heroin traffickers interested in purchasing kilogram quantities of heroin for importation into the United States.  Those individuals were, in fact, working at the direction of the DEA, including an undercover law enforcement officer (the “UC”).  During those meetings and telephone calls, which were recorded, KHAN agreed to supply hundreds of kilograms of heroin from Southwest Asia for importation into the United States and distribution in New York City.  KHAN represented that he could send heroin to the United States, Canada, and “anywhere else in the world,” and that he was able to send the narcotics by plane or ship.  

In late September 2016, KHAN traveled to a country in Southwest Asia where KHAN met with the UC, among others.  During the meeting, KHAN agreed to provide the UC with an initial shipment of five kilograms of heroin for importation into the United States.  KHAN informed the UC that, once the five kilograms of heroin successfully arrived in New York City, KHAN would begin supplying the UC with larger quantities of heroin on a regular basis.  KHAN further assured the UC that the heroin KHAN would provide was 100% pure.

In early October 2016, one of KHAN’s employees, acting at his direction, delivered the five-kilogram initial shipment of heroin in the same country in Southwest Asia.  Through a series of recorded telephone calls, KHAN confirmed with the UC that the heroin his employee had provided was KHAN’s, that the heroin was to be transported to New York City, and that KHAN would be paid for the heroin once it arrived in the United States.

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The Complaint charges KHAN, 68, a citizen of Pakistan, in two counts:

KHAN is charged with one count of conspiracy to import heroin into the United States, and one count of attempting to import heroin into the United States.  If convicted of Count One or Count Two, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.  The statutory minimum and maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the DEA Special Operations Division’s Bilateral Investigations Unit; the DEA Accra, Canberra, Dubai, Islamabad, Kabul, Nairobi, and New Delhi Country Offices; the DEA New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force Financial Investigative Team; the Government of Liberia; the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission; and the Maldives Police Service.  The defendant’s arrest and subsequent expulsion are also the result of the close cooperative efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.

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

The allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth below constitute only allegations and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Press Release Number: 
Updated December 16, 2016