Law enforcement officers arrested three men Monday and seized more than 11 pounds of nearly pure heroin that they allegedly smuggled off a Pakistani cargo ship that was docked at the Dundalk Marine Terminal.
The suspects were identified as Shah Zahir, 37, and Sardar Ali, 35, both Pakistani nationals, and Sardar Ali Khan, 30, a native of Pakistan now residing in Queens, N.Y.
The men were charged with smuggling and importation of narcotics. Other charges may be filed later, said a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul M. Rosenberg ordered the men to be held yesterday pending a review later this week, a Customs Service official said.
The nearly pure heroin seized was valued at about $750,000 but would have been worth far more once diluted and packaged for street distribution by dealers, federal officials said.
According to Tim Halloran, assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Customs Service in Baltimore, Mr. Ali and Mr. Zahir were crewmen on the Multan, a Pakistani cargo ship that docked here March 3 and is scheduled to leave today.
They were arrested as they boarded the ship on Monday night after they allegedly supplied the heroin to Mr. Khan.
Mr. Khan was arrested at the Perryville toll facilities on Interstate 95 in Cecil County as he drove to New York. The vehicle he was driving was pulled over by a Maryland State Police officer and a trained dog sniffed out the heroin which was packed in a large gym bag, Mr. Halloran said.
Craig N. Chretien, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Baltimore, said agents in Pakistan gathered intelligence on the smuggling plan involving the Multan.
To thwart the plan, a surveillance team was established here, Mr. Chretien said, to watch the Multan and its crew after the ship docked. Agents from the Customs Service and city police assigned to customs assisted in the investigation, he said.
In addition to the heroin seized on I-95, DEA agents raided the Queens home of Mr. Kahn and confiscated a half-pound of high-quality brown Southwest Asian heroin and a quarter-pound of Southeast Asian heroin, Mr. Chretien said.