27 April 2005

UNODC Welcomes Arrest of Afghanistan’s Number One Drug Trafficker

United Nations Counter-Drugs Chief says Young People in Europe Still in Danger and Calls on European Union Governments to Act

VIENNA, 27 April (UN Information Service) -- Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), joined anti-drug officials around the world today to express support for the indictment and arrest of a major Afghan drug trafficker, Haji Bashir Noorzai by authorities in the United States. The indictment alleges Haji B. Noorzai has trafficked at least US$50 million worth of heroin to the United States and Europe.

 “Noorzai is a leading architect of Afghanistan’s drug economy, a narcotics kingpin with no compunctions about exploiting the poverty of Afghan farmers to supply heroin to millions of addicts in Europe. His enormous wealth rests on a foundation of corruption, violence, murder, and death,” said Mr. Costa.

Haji B. Noorzai allegedly helped finance al Qaeda, a terrorist organization, when it operated under Taliban protection, and according to some sources, provided Afghanistan’s former Taliban leaders with weaponry, and militia.

UNODC has been working closely with Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and anti-drug officials across the world to facilitate the extradition of drug traffickers from Afghanistan to Member States able to indict and prosecute criminals more effectively.  Mr. Costa pointed to Haji B. Noorzai’s arrest and indictment as an example of what Member States can do to strike back at heroin traffickers flooding their communities with the lethal drug.

“UNODC asked the Afghan Government to demonstrate its commitment to eliminating drugs in four separate ways,” said Mr. Costa. “By conducting a comprehensive eradication campaign, which they are doing. By prosecuting serious cases of trafficking and drug dealing, which they are doing. And by taking tangible action against corrupt officials, and reinforcing their counter-narcotic structure -- and they are doing both these things as well. The country deserves this kind of cooperation and support from the US and other States imperilled by an escalating supply of high-grade heroin.”

UN statistics indicate one-half of Afghanistan’s heroin, more than 230 tons, ends up on the streets of Europe, countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and Russia. “It’s time for authorities in these countries to sit up and take notice,” said Mr. Costa. “Noorzai may be Afghanistan’s Number One trafficker. But  there are more out there,  dealing death to kids all over Europe, and getting rich.”


For more information:

Kathleen Millar
Deputy Spokesperson, UNODC
Tel: +43 1 26060 5629
Mobile: +43 (0) 699 1459 5629
Email: kathleen.millar@unvienna.org