US removes Dawood Ibrahim aide Iqbal Mirchi from list of drug kingpins

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Feb 12, 2016 00:30 IST
Iqbal Mirchi, considered a close aide of fugitive Dawood Ibrahim, died of a heart attack in London in 2013. (Getty Images)

The US has removed Iqbal Mirchi, an alleged aide of Dawood Ibrahim and Mumbai underworld figure who died in 2013, from its list of international kingpins of illicit drug trade.

The deletion, notified by the US treasury on February 3, gave no reason for the change. But a US treasury official said on background, “In August 2013, Iqbal Mirchi died in the United Kingdom, which OFAC (Office of Foreign Asset Control) has confirmed. Due to this changed circumstance, Treasury determined that Mr. Mirchi no longer meets the criteria for identification as a Tier I drug kingpin.”

“This removal from OFAC’s SDN (specially designated nationals) list does not change the veracity of the evidence of his illicit activities prior to his 2013 death,” the official added.

The treasury said Mirchi was identified as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker (or Tier I drug kingpin) pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act due to his international narcotics trafficking activities on June 1, 2004. US and foreign law enforcement reporting indicated that Mirchi had been involved in drug trafficking (heroin, hashish, methaqualone).

But Mirchi’s sons, Asif and Junaid Memon, who are now based in Dubai, said in a statement their late father had petitioned US authorities against the designation.

They added, “At last the truth has come out.”

Iqbal Mirchi, whose real name was Iqbal Memon, was once one of the most wanted men in the world, sought by Indian authorities for involvement in the 1993 Mumbai bombings.

“Everything they say about me is total bullshit,” Mirchi told The Guardian in an interview in 2005 in UK, where he was living then.

He added: “The drugs, the murder, the terrorism. All bullshit. My first crime is that I am a Muslim. My second crime is that I am a successful Muslim businessman.”

He died in London in 2013 at the age of 63.

US treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control enforces actions against those named to the list of special designated nationals (SDNs) under various authorities.

Mirchi was named to the SDN list in 2004 under the Kingpin Act, a 2000 law that slaps sanctions against “significant foreign narcotics traffickers” and their networks.

Designated individuals lose their assets in America and US citizens and entities are prohibited from conducting business with them.

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