Haji Bagcho sent heroin to more than 20 countries and was once responsible for trafficking a fifth of the world's heroin supply, prosecutors estimate. In one year alone he is thought to have traded more than 125 tonnes of the drug worth hundreds of millions of pounds, and used the proceeds to give weapons, cash and supplies to Taliban commanders fighting Nato forces.
His conviction was a rare success for an international effort which has struggled to dent the Afghan opium trade, or the international drug smuggling networks it feeds.
Bagcho, aged around 60, operated a family business from Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan and ran a network of laboratories along the Pakistan border.
Khadi Gul, Bagcho's younger brother, told The Daily Telegraph his family had been involved in smuggling and had run a family business from a notorious smuggling bazaar in Ghani Kheyl. He said Bagcho, who has 13 children from two wives, had been involved in the business since the early 1990s, but denied the family had ever given money to the Taliban.
Khadi Gul said: "For four years we have heard nothing from him, by telephone, letter or anything.
"He was a smuggler, that's true, everyone in our area is, but we don't agree that he gave money to the Taliban.
"They should bring him here and try him. We have our own courts here."
The case against Bagcho, built on a five year investigation, gives a glimpse of the enormous scale and breadth of the Afghan heroin industry which provides more than 90 per cent of the world's supply.
American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents working with undercover Afghan police officers recorded a series of drug deals with Bagcho where he sold them kilograms of heroin he thought was destined for the US.
During the investigation he offered an Afghan border police commander a "blank cheque" if he would tip him off about drug raids and help him transport his product.
Regular payments of cash, weapons and food were made to three Taliban commanders in Nangarhar, including Maulawi Kabir, the insurgents' shadow governor.
However the true scale of his operation was only disclosed when Bagcho's compound was raided in November 2007 and ledgers were found in a lavatory detailing the movement during 2006 of 275,000lb of heroin that he valued at £160 million.
He was arrested in Pakistan in 2009, "for unknown reasons unrelated to this case" according to case documents, then handed over to Afghan custody and extradited to America.
In March, he was found guilty of conspiracy, distribution of heroin for importation into the United States and narco-terrorism.
He will be sentenced on Tuesday and faces a minimum of 20 years in prison and may be jailed for life.
Bagcho's eldest son, Sucha Gul, was arrested during a night raid by Nato forces on January 14 and is believed to be held in Bagram prison north of Kabul.
Several more alleged Afghan drug lords are awaiting trial in the US and more have been convicted in a purpose-built, British and American-funded court in Afghanistan.
However the networks are often quickly revived by other traffickers. Some of the country's most senior opium kingpins are also deemed untouchable because of their political connections to the Karzai government, western officials in Afghanistan have complained.
By Ben Farmer, Kabul, The Daily Telegraph, 8:00PM BST 10 Jun 2012
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