Afghan tribal leader convicted on NY drug charges

NEW YORK (AP) -- A New York jury has convicted a former Afghan tribal leader of smuggling $50 million worth of heroin into the United States.

Bashir Noorzai was convicted of narcotics conspiracy on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Prosecutors had said Noorzai was so influential in his homeland that he formed his own army and teamed up with the Taliban.

The U.S. government said Noorzai was one of Afghanistan's most powerful men before the U.S. invasion in October 2001.

Noorzai's lawyer, Ivan Fisher, argued that his client was a friend of the United States who offered to help Americans fight terrorism and the drug trade.

Noorzai presided over the Noorzai tribe, comprised of a million people in southern and western Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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