Action Targets Barakzai Network Including Affiliated Money Exchange Houses
WASHINGTON – The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated Shah Mohammad Barakzai and Haji Baz Mohammad for their significant roles in international narcotics trafficking, as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). Treasury also designated under the Kingpin Act two other individuals and two entities located in Afghanistan for their support to Shah Mohammad Barakzai and his organization. Barakzai was arrested and sentenced for operating as a narcotics trafficker in Afghanistan in 2011 by Afghan counter narcotics authorities. Today’s action targets Barakzai’s network and its illicit financial activity. The Kingpin Act prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals and entities, and it freezes any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
“Today’s designation builds on Afghan efforts to disrupt heroin trafficking from Afghanistan,” said OFAC Director Adam Szubin. “We will continue to work to expose the support mechanisms for this illicit activity, by targeting the individuals involved and their affiliated businesses and financial networks, including exchange houses.”
Barakzai is the head of a drug trafficking organization based in Gereshk, Afghanistan.
In addition to Barakzai, who has been convicted and sentenced in Afghanistan for operating as a narcotics trafficker, Treasury is also naming the following drug trafficking associates of Barakzai: Abdul "Doctor" Hadi, who used his pharmaceutical background to process opium for Barakzai’s network; Haji Baz Mohammad, who controls opium cultivation and transportation for the network; and Mohammad Wali, who served as the main financial conduit for the network in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Also named as part of the network are two exchange houses used by Barakzai’s organization. They include Barakzai’s exchange house, New Ahmadi Ltd., and the Mohammad Wali Money Exchange controlled by his associate Mohammad Wali.
The investigation that led to these designations was the result of collaborative efforts of Treasury, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Terrorist Financing Operation Section and the Afghan Threat Finance Cell (ATFC). The ATFC is a tactically-focused, interagency fusion center in Afghanistan that collects, analyzes and disseminates relevant financial intelligence on individuals and organizations involved in financing the Afghan insurgency.
Today’s action is part of Treasury’s ongoing efforts to use the Kingpin Act to target the financial and support networks of narcotics traffickers worldwide. Internationally, the Treasury Department has designated more than 1,100 businesses and individuals linked to drug kingpins since June 2000. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to serious criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.
To view a chart of the Barakzai network, see link.