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Reputed Afghan drug lord held for trial in U.S.

  • Story Highlights
  • Defendent said to be one of the biggest heroin suppliers in eastern Afghanistan
  • Reputed drug lord Haji Bagcho appeared in federal court in Washington
  • He faces indictment for a heroin trafficking conspiracy, importing heroin into the U.S.
  • Law official says Taliban protected his operation in return for money
By Terry Frieden
CNN Justice Producer
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A reputed drug lord described as one of the biggest heroin suppliers in eastern Afghanistan -- with suspected ties to the Taliban -- appeared in federal court in Washington Monday, where he was ordered detained pending his expected drug trial.

The defendant, identified as Haji Bagcho, appeared before a federal magistrate to face an indictment for a heroin trafficking conspiracy and for importing heroin into the U.S.

A federal law enforcement official familiar with his case, who asked not to be identified, described Bagcho as "a big fish" whose own ledgers show he had made profits during one recent eight-month period of more than $100 million.

"He had a symbiotic relationship with the Taliban. He gave them money and they gave him protection to operate a sophisticated network of labs," the law enforcement official said.

Two officials said Bagcho was arrested in recent weeks following an undercover operation conducted by Afghan law enforcement officials. He was turned over to Drug Enforcement Administration agents who, with Defense Department assistance, flew Bagcho to Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland last Wednesday.

Bagcho is described as the operator of a sophisticated network of processing labs which supplied heroin to several Western countries.

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