Chief Investigative Reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

6 Charged in International Opium-Smuggling Ring: Feds

One New Yorker was arrested in

By Joe Valiquette, Jonathan Dienst and Shimon Prokupecz
|  Thursday, Mar 8, 2012  |  Updated 6:26 PM EDT
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6 Charged in Int'l Opium-Smuggling Ring: Sources

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Six people, including one man arrested in New York, have been charged in Manhattan federal court in connection with an international conspiracy that smuggled opium from the Iran/Afghanistan border into the United States, law-enforcement sources told NBC New York.

Of the six charged, three were arrested today, one each in New York, Maryland and Virginia.  The other three were arrested in January.  All six men face up to twenty years in prison if convicted on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute opium.

Court papers say the joint FBI, DEA, NYPD investigation revealed that the opium hidden in the Persian rugs was obtained from nomads in the border region between Iran and Afghanistan.  The opium was hidden in the rugs in Iran and then driven to Germany where they were then shipped to New York. 

In New York, the opium was removed from the rugs and was distributed to other US cities including Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., according to court papers.

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