Washington: An Afghan man who authorities say was one of the world's largest heroin traffickers and used drug sale proceeds to support the Taliban was sentenced on Tuesday to life in prison.
Haji Bagcho, who manufactured heroin in secret laboratories along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan and sent heroin to more than 20 countries, was sent to the United States in 2009 to face charges.
The 70-year-old Bagcho was convicted in March of conspiracy, distributing heroin for importation into the United States and narco-terrorism. Another trial last year ended with a hung jury.
At his sentencing hearing in federal court in Washington, Bagcho proclaimed his innocence.
His lawyers acknowledged their client's crimes were serious but urged a judge to sentence him to 20 years, the minimum possible sentence, saying Bagcho is in failing health. Prosecutors asked for life in prison.
"It can be fairly said that the defendant is perhaps the largest drug trafficker by volume, and certainly the largest drug trafficker by share of global production, ever brought to justice in the United States," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
First Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 10:25