Treasury Targets Taliban Shadow Governor of Helmand Afghanistan as Narcotics Trafficker
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced the designation of a senior leader of the Taliban, Mullah Naim Barich, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). Barich is the “Shadow Governor” of Helmand province, the largest opium producing province in Afghanistan. Barich appears on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1988 Sanctions List due to his support for the Taliban. Today’s action prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with Barich and also freezes any assets he may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
“Today’s action exposes the direct involvement of senior Taliban leadership in the production, manufacturing, and trafficking of narcotics in Afghanistan and underlines the Taliban’s reliance on the drug trade to finance their acts of terror and violence,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. “Treasury will continue exposing links between the international narcotics trade and terrorist networks, in Afghanistan, and wherever else they exist.”
Treasury is designating Barich for the significant role he plays in international narcotics trafficking, particularly in Helmand province, Afghanistan. In January 2012, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) Deputy Governor for Helmand province announced plans for government-led eradication of poppy, which is used to make heroin and opium. In early March 2012, Barich, the Taliban “Shadow Governor” of Helmand province, issued a written decree to subordinate Taliban commanders, detailing procedures to be adopted by Taliban in Helmand province to combat planned government-led eradication operations. This decree stated that all measures, including planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs), engaging in combat with coalition forces, or bribing GIRoA officials, were to be taken to protect the poppy harvest. Barich has said the funds from the poppy harvest will permit the Taliban to survive, and therefore, it must be protected at all costs.
Barich is involved in many levels of the heroin and opium drug trade, including leading meetings with drug traffickers, controlling opium production, and owning his own drug loads. For example, Barich convened a meeting to discuss narcotics production and delivery to Pakistan and Iran. The meeting was held in a compound in Girdi Jangle, Pakistan, and attended by a number of prominent narcotics producers and smugglers. On another occasion, Barich met with a number of personnel to discuss preparations for the opium production forecasted for 2012. He met with several others, ordering them to prepare for the upcoming poppy season purchases and transportation. Further, a consignment of processed white heroin, owned by Barich, was sent from a narcotics trafficker’s compound in Girdi Jangle, Pakistan, to Salawan, Iran, and then on to the Turkish border for further distribution.
Internationally, Treasury has designated more than 1,200 businesses and individuals linked to 97 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 more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could 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.