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Press Release

Member Of International Narcotics Trafficking Conspiracy Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To 66 Months In Prison

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

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that FRANCIS SOUROU AHISSOU, 48, a citizen of Togo, was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 66 months in prison for participating in a conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States. AHISSOU was arrested in Monrovia, Liberia, in coordination with Liberian authorities in February 2011 and transferred thereafter to the custody of the United States. He pled guilty in May 2013 before U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, who imposed today’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “Francis Ahissou was all too eager to sell cocaine to purported associates of the Taliban who planned to distribute it in the United States. Today's sentence is the latest result of this Office’s campaign to hold narco-traffickers to account and destroy these dangerous drug rings.”

According to the Indictment and Complaint previously unsealed in this case, as well as statements made during court proceedings:

Beginning in the summer of 2010, AHISSOU and some of his co-defendants (the “co-defendants”) communicated with confidential sources (“CSs”) working with the DEA, who purported to represent the Taliban. The communications occurred by telephone, via e-mail, and in a series of audio-recorded and videotaped meetings over several months.

During meetings with the CSs beginning in June 2010 in West Africa, AHISSOU and his co-defendants agreed to sell multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine to the Taliban understanding that portions of the cocaine would be transported to the United States by commercial airline and then sold in this country for a profit. AHISSOU also helped arrange the sale of an approximately 800-gram sample of cocaine to the CSs in October 2010.

In addition to the prison term, AHISSOU was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment.

The charges against AHISSOU were the result of the coordinated efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the DEA’s Special Operations Division, as well as the DEA Lagos Country Office, the DEA Warsaw Country Office, the DEA Ghana Country Office, the DEA Athens Country Office, and the DEA SECI (South East European Cooperative Initiative Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime). Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA and thanked the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs and National Security Division, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their assistance. Mr. Bharara also thanked the Government of Liberia for its cooperation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christian Everdell, Aimee Hector, and Glen Kopp are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated May 13, 2015

Press Release Number: 13-263