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Thursday, April 24 2014 @ 09:32 AM EDT

Former Army captain admits part in heroin smuggling

Drug TraffickingWritten by Sean O’Sullivan - The News Journal - WILMINGTON — A West Point graduate and former U.S. Army Capt. Saleem A. Sharif admitted in federal court Thursday to being involved in a heroin smuggling operation that funneled drugs from Afghanistan to the streets of Wilmington.

Sharif pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import more than 100 grams of heroin into the U.S. and possession with the intent to distribute. He now faces a minimum four years in prison and up 80 years behind bars, though a guideline sentence would be between 11 and 16 years of incarceration.

Sharif, 35, of Johns Island, S.C., also agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty though District Judge Richard A. Andrews could impose a fine of up to $10 million at sentencing in January.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert F. Kravetz charged that Sharif, who was working as a military contractor in Kabul specializing in communications, arranged to smuggle more than 2.5 kilograms of heroin from Afghanistan to the United States through a co-defendant who lived near Fort Hood in Texas.

According to federal officials, the drugs were concealed in shrink-wrapped DVD cases for television shows like True Blood and Spartacus.

From the Fort Hood area, the drugs made their way to Delaware through an organization operated by Rolondo Edmund, who also was using couriers to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. from Panama, according to prosecutors. Edmund admitted to drug trafficking charges in June and is awaiting sentencing.

Sharif was arrested in April outside the Wilmington Amtrak station as part of a federal sting operation where he was caught with 115 grams of heroin.

U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III said Sharif, “violated the trust of his country and his uniform.”

Sharif’s attorney, Luis Ortiz, declined comment outside court.

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