Justice Department Indicts Iranian Drug Lord In Alleged Plot To Assassinate US Residents

(Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

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Robert Schmad Contributor
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted an Iranian-backed drug lord and two Canadian nationals in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate an Iranian dissident residing in the United States.

Naji Ibrahim Sharifi-Zindashti, an Iranian drug lord who supplies heroin and opium to senior Iranian officials, used an encrypted messaging service to discuss plans to murder two people living in Maryland with Adam Pearson and Damion Ryan, two Canadian nationals, according to DOJ indictment unsealed Monday. The DOJ charged all three men with engaging in a murder-for-hire plot, and Pearson was also charged with possessing a firearm as an unlawful alien and as fugitive from justice.

Zindashti had previously been linked to efforts by the Iranian regime to silence its enemies by facilitating assassinations and kidnappings at the direction of Iran, according to the Treasury Department. Zindashti is based in Iran and has not been apprehended by authorities, while the two Canadian men are incarcerated in Canada on unrelated charges, according to the DOJ. (RELATED: US Military Says More Troops Injured In Attack That Killed 3 As Iran Denies Responsibility)

Zindashti reached Ryan in January 2021 regarding a potential “job” in Maryland, according to the DOJ. Ryan then contacted Pearson, who allegedly began making plans to arrange the murder of two Maryland residents, one of whom had previously defected from Iran.

Pearson told Ryan he would assemble a team to carry out the killing and that he would encourage them to “shoot [the victim] in the head a lot [to] make an example,” and tell them that “we gotta erase his head from this torso,” according to the DOJ’s indictment.

Zindashti agreed to pay Ryan $350,000, plus $20,000 in travel expenses, according to the DOJ.

An Iranian flag flutters next to a ground-to-ground Sajil missile before being launched at an undisclosed location in Iran on November 12, 2008. Iran test fired today a new generation of ground-to-ground missile, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted the defence minister as saying. In the past Iran has often boasted of developing new weapons systems only to be met with scepticism from Western defence analysts. AFP PHOTO/FARS NEWS/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP via Getty Images)

An Iranian flag flutters next to a ground-to-ground Sajil missile before being launched at an undisclosed location in Iran on November 12, 2008. (AFP via Getty Images)

Zindashti’s operation is responsible for trafficking more than 20% of the drugs in Iran, according to Iran International. His network is protected by the Iranian government, according to the Treasury Department.

The Treasury Department announced on Monday it would be sanctioning assets tied to Zindashti. Zindashti, while being protected by the Iranian regime, operates at the direction of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

Treasury and the DOJ did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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