Iran uses drug kingpin to assassinate overseas critics and defectors

An Iranian drug dealer working on behalf of Iran’s security services attempted to coordinate the assassination of a defector in Maryland, according to U.S. officials.

“Thanks to the skilled work of federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents, this murder-for-hire conspiracy was disrupted and the defendants will face justice,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said in a Monday statement.

Justice Department officials outlined the plot in an indictment that identified Naji Sharifi-Zindashti as the Iran-based coordinator of the operation, which also involved an alleged Canadian co-conspirator who is “a full patch member of the outlaw Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club.” They unveiled the indictment in tandem with the publication of economic sanctions billed as a crackdown on the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security network that coordinates the overseas attacks.

“The Iranian regime’s continued efforts to target dissidents
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