WILMINGTON, Del.–A South Carolina man and former captain in the U.S. Army, pleaded guilty to charges of importing heroin and possession with the intent to distribute the drug.
Saleem Sharif, 36, of Johns Island, S.C., pleaded guilty to the charges. Each charge carries a maximum term of 40 years in prison. Sharif is scheduled to be sentenced January 15, 2013.
“This joint investigation is a terrific example of how law enforcement, with support from our partners abroad, were able to successfully dismantle this narcotics smuggling network,” said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of HSI Philadelphia. “HSI will continue to utilize its broad authorities to target those individuals that pose direct threats to our communities.”
According to court documents, Sharif, a U.S. Military Academy graduate, admitted that he imported into the country at least 2.5 kilograms of heroin from Afghanistan while employed there as a contractor. Sharif concealed the heroin in DVD cases, each case containing approximately 2.5 ounces of heroin.
One of Sharif’s customers was Darrold Thomas. Thomas, who pleaded guilty to a drug trafficking offense August 9, 2012, lived in Killeen, Texas. During his plea hearing, Thomas admitted that on two occasions he sold heroin directly to several individuals from the Wilmington area. Thomas stated that he sold approximately five ounces of heroin to Kelvin Cook in Killeen, Texas, in the summer of 2010. Thomas sold the heroin, which was concealed in two DVD cases, for $5,000.
Thomas also admitted he sold approximately 500 grams of heroin to Ronaldo Edmund and Kevin Morris in Washington, D.C., in December 2010. Thomas sold the heroin, which was packaged in several DVD cases, for $30,000. Edmund and Morris have each pleaded guilty to drug trafficking offenses in the District of Delaware.
In addition to heroin transactions with Cook, Edmund and Morris, Thomas also admitted that he directed the shipment of approximately 210 grams of heroin, which he had received from Sharif, to a DEA confidential source at an address in Newark, Del., in September 2011. The heroin was concealed in a DVD case and located within the false bottom of a can of oil.
Ultimately, Thomas placed the source in direct contact with Sharif. On April 27, 2012, Sharif and co-defendant Charles Richardson traveled to Wilmington to meet with the source. They were arrested while meeting with the individual in a vehicle outside the Amtrak train station. In a later search, agents found two DVD cases that contained heroin – one in a bag belonging to Sharif, and another in a bag belonging to Richardson. The total net weight of the heroin was approximately 115 grams.
Following his arrest, Sharif admitted to traveling to Delaware to sell the heroin to the source. He also admitted that he imported heroin into the U.S. during his time in Afghanistan.
Sharif is the 15th individual charged in connection with the Wilmington-based drug organization to enter a guilty plea. Eleven defendants have entered guilty pleas in the United States District Court, District of Delaware, while four other defendants have entered guilty pleas in the United States District Court, Southern District of Texas. Six other individuals remain in custody in Panama.