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Thursday May 13 2021
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US agents involved in London raid on Pakistani national

Asif Hafeez. File photo 

LONDON: Agents of the American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) took part in the unprecedented raid on Pakistani national Muhammad Asif Hafeez in London during the raid which was until now believed to be the sole operation by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) on request of the US authorities for drug importation offences.

The UK’s anti-crimes agency has confirmed that two agents of the DEA took part in the raid – the same agents who had previously held meetings with the Pakistani gold merchant in Dubai to discuss collaborations and drugs networks.

Over a dozen officers had raided Asif Hafeez’s Park Road flat near Regent’s Park Mosque to take him into custody on the American request for extradition linked to alleged preparation and import of Class A drugs into the United States.

When approached for a comment as to why the US officials were allowed to enter into home of the Pakistani national ahead of the NCA officers during the raid and whether this was violation of the jurisdiction and abuse of process, a spokesman of the NCA confirmed to The News and Geo that “the DEA officers were present during the arrest of Mr Hafeez in an observational capacity” but denied that they were leading the raid and added that “this is not uncommon in such cases”.

The NCA spokesman said that the American agents would have “no legal jurisdiction on UK soil, and the operation to arrest him was undertaken by UK officers”. The NCA provided no answer on the need for the presence of DEA agents who remained in control of Hafeez during the arrest process and exchanged hash words with him.

Seven different US agents from the DEA and the CIA met Asif Hafeez in Dubai and London over nine meetings from 2014 till the arrest of Asif Hafeez.

In court papers, Asif Hafeez said that the American agents, who met him during the 6th Dubai meeting, were “forceful and angry” and their “general demeanour and approach was very aggressive throughout this period”.

The NCA spokesman further added that the NCA regularly has “NCA officers deploy with law enforcement partners overseas and vice versa where appropriate in an observational capacity”. In an email, a spokesman of the DEA refused to comment.

The NCA released a statement soon after arresting Asif Hafeez on August 25, 2017, stating “officers from the NCA and the Metropolitan Police detained Pakistani national Muhammad Asif Hafeez, 58, at an address in North London” but made no mention that agents of DEA also took part in the raid and were part of the arrest process.

Since then Asif Hafeez has been languishing in the Belmarsh prison ever since in a high security cell dedicated for terrorists. The UK says there is no case against the Pakistani national in the UK but the Americans have accused Hafeez of conspiring to import heroin the US with Indian national Vicky Goswami, two Akasha brothers from Kenya and Gulam Hussain. The Pakistani national denies all charges.

Criminal law solicitor Barrister Moeen Khan commented any violation of the law or guidelines can lead to argument of abuse of process, violation of the accused human rights, and arrest process deemed to be wrongful or malicious leading to complaint against police.

Originally published in The News