ICE HSI Houston-led investigation disrupts transnational drug-trafficking ring
HOUSTON – Eleven men, from the countries of Tanzania, Pakistan and Iran, were sentenced Aug. 6-7 to federal prison for their roles in a transnational drug-trafficking ring.
This Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Houston, Texas, with assistance from HSI Senegal, HSI London, HSI Ottawa, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, South African Police Service, Dubai Police Department, Royal Oman Police, UK National Crime Agency, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Australian Federal Police.
Ali Khatib Haji Hassan, 49, Makame Haji Mwinyi, 49, Ernest Michael Mbwile, 35, Abdulahtif Juma Maalim, 43, Ibrahim Omary Madega, 52, Tiko Emanuel Adam, 41, Iddy Saleme Mfullu, 46, Mohammed Said Mohammed, 48, Daud Michael Vedasto, 58, all from Tanzania; Salim Omar Balouch, 36, from Iran; and Abdul Basit Jahangir, 40, from Karachi, Pakistan, were all sentenced as a result of the investigation into trafficking multiple kilograms of heroin to the United States from abroad.
Jahangir received a 151-month term of imprisonment. Mfullu and Mohammed both received terms of 50 months, while Hassan, Mwinyi, Mbwile, Maalim, Madega, Adam and Vedasto, were ordered to serve 99, 62, 52, 46, 87, 37 and 46 months, respectively. The court imposed a 135-month sentence for Balouch. They are all expected to be placed into removal proceedings following their sentences.
This case began with the arrest of an internal body carrier at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport on June 3, 2012. That defendant had swallowed 1.5 kilograms of heroin packaged in 100 pellets.
The investigation eventually led to the charging of 15 defendants, including two consolidated priority organization targets, one U.S. Treasury Department designated “kingpin” and seizures of approximately 1,600 kilograms of heroin.
This investigation not only touched the United States, but also Canada, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, South Africa, Tanzania, The Republic of Seychelles, Hong Kong, Australia, Oman, United Kingdom (UK), Italy, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Mozambique, The Netherlands and Saudi Arabia.
Thirteen have pleaded guilty. Two remain fugitives.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Magness is prosecuting the case.