Wealthy Pakistani Goes On Trial For Drug Smuggling
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ Federal prosecutors opened their case Tuesday against a wealthy Pakistani believed to have used profits from his alleged drug smuggling to buy arms for rebels fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Abdul Wali is charged with shipping 2,224 pounds of hashish to undercover agents posing as drug buyers in Port Newark.
In his opening arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Patton told the jury that Wali is a key supplier in a multi-national drug ring, but he did not mention his alleged Afghan ties.
″Wali keeps himself behind the scenes, but he’s actually a very important person in this organization,″ Patton said.
Defense lawyer Joseph Govlick said his client maintains his innocence.
Wali had a leadership role among rebels fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan and used the drug proceeds to purchase arms, authorities have said.
Patton told the jury that taped telephone conversations between Wali, who goes by the name of ″the Hadj,″ and co-conspirator Stanley Esser, the alleged ″salesman,″ clearly will implicate Wali in the smuggling.
He said those telephone calls correspond with taped conversations between Esser and an American undercover investigator who posed as an American drug buyer.
Patton said the 1985 transaction of hashish was spurred by a glutted hashish market in the Netherlands and a potentially lucrative market in the United States.
Wali, who also is being tried on charges of conspiring to send 224 pounds of heroin to the United States, was released from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in January after his lawyer posted his client’s $3 million Malibu, Calif., home as surety.
U.S District Judge Clarkson Fisher ordered Wali to remain in New Jersey or Malibu, which he visits on weekends.