Skip to main content
Press Release

U.S. Attorney Announces Conviction Of Iranian Large-Scale Heroin Trafficker

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
Malek Mohammad Balouchzehi Conspired to Sell Ton Quantities of Heroin for Distribution in New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that a jury returned a guilty verdict today against MALEK BALOUCHZEHI, a/k/a “Malek Khan,” on charges of conspiring to import heroin into the United States and distributing heroin for importation into the United States.  U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman presided over the one-week trial.  BALOUCHZEHI is scheduled to be sentenced September 12, 2023.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Malek Balouchzehi sought to expand his significant drug trafficking operations by importing massive quantities of heroin into the United States and sending it right here, to New York.  Balouchzehi has trafficked drugs around the world for at least a decade.  Today, Balouchzehi stands convicted of his crimes and faces the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence.  We will continue to work diligently with the DEA to curb the importation of heroin, a lethal drug plaguing our communities.”

As reflected in the Indictment, public filings, and the evidence presented at trial:

BALOUCHZEHI is an Iran-based drug trafficker.  In or about September 2019, BALOUCHZEHI and an Iranian drug trafficking partner 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 Drug Enforcement Administration’s (“DEA”) direction and an undercover DEA agent posing as a New York-based heroin distributor.  In December 2019, BALOUCHZEHI sent a courier in Mozambique to deliver a sample of approximately two kilograms of heroin, with the understanding that those drugs would be transported to the United States for testing and sale in New York City.  Following this sample heroin shipment, BALOUCHZEHI planned to supply thousands of kilograms 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 of dollars in profits.  During these meetings in Nairobi, BALOUCHZEHI also described his prior international drug trafficking activities over the last decade, including his loads of thousands of kilograms of heroin, and showed photographs evidencing his large-scale trafficking operation.

*                *                *

BALOUCHZEHI, 39, of Iran, was convicted of one count of conspiring to import heroin into the United States, and one count of distributing heroin for importation into the United States, each of which carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The statutory minimum and maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by Judge Furman.

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 are in charge of the prosecution.


Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated May 16, 2023

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 23-179