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 A Pakistani man suspected of being the leader of a global drug production and distribution syndicate has been arrested in the UK, following investigations by the National Crime Agency and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Officers from the NCA and the Metropolitan Police detained Pakistani national Mohammad Asif Hafeez, 58, at an address in North London on Friday morning.  

He is wanted in the United States to face charges of conspiring to import drugs and will now face extradition. 

Hafeez is alleged to have been the head of an international network involved in manufacturing and distributing large quantities of narcotics. It is further alleged that the suspect agreed to import narcotics, including heroin and methamphetamine, into the US, dating back to at least 2013. 

One such seizure led to the recovery of 99 kilograms of heroin. Another seizure related to Hafeez’s alleged narcotics trafficking involved the recovery of 18 tonnes of ephedrine in India. 

In communications with other members of the network, he is said to have been referred to as “Sultan”. 

“This is a hugely significant arrest of a man suspected of being the head of a global drug production and distribution network, with links across Asia, Europe and North America,” said NCA branch commander Martin Huxley. 

“Because of the scale of the criminality alleged here, this is an international investigation and the NCA has worked extremely closely with our partners in the US and UK.” 

“The organized crime groups involved in drug trafficking at this level fuel violence and exploitation at every step, from the locations overseas where drugs are farmed and produced right through to the dealers on UK street corners,” Huxley added. 

He appeared at Westminster magistrates court yesterday for the start of extradition proceedings to the US.  

Prosecutors also added that Hafeez and some co-conspirators tried to establish a methamphetamine-production facility in Mozambique as part of the conspiracy to import methamphetamine into the US, but were forced to abandon the plan after authorities seized about 18 tonnes of ephedrine from a factory in Solapur, Maharashtra.  

Hafeez is said to own two properties in London, and spend most of his time in Dubai, the Guardian reported.