AWOL Afghan officers found in Buffalo

Afghan officers Mohammad Yasin Ataye and Mohd Naweed Samimi were located by federal agents in Buffalo.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Two Afghan police officers who vanished while in the United States for drug trafficking training have been found in Buffalo, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

A DEA spokesperson said Mohammad Yasin Ataye, 22, and Mohd Naweed Samimi, 24, were picked up by federal agents Thursday and returned to Quantico, Virginia. It is unclear where in Buffalo they were found. Federal investigators believed the men may have headed to Buffalo to try to reunite with a relative.

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The men were highly vetted and trusted; they were part of a group training in a special DEA program. The skills they learned in Quantico, Virginia they bring back to their country to help stop illegal drug flow there. The two men disappeared in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. nine days ago. They were found this past Thursday here in Buffalo.

Rusty Payne, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s spokesperson in Washington DC, said what happened in this case may lead to more oversight. Payne wants to stress the two missing Afghan policemen who were found in Buffalo were not dangerous. He said they just wanted a better life.

“This is a very, very rare occurrence. We wouldn’t bring anybody to the U.S. if they posed a security threat,” said Payne. “I suspect there will be some oversight but I don’t think this represents a significant problem.”

The two men were part of a group of 31 Afghan officers who were in the U.S. for a five-week DEA training program to combat drug trafficking. These men are considered the best and brightest from Afghanistan law enforcement.

Ataye and Samimi entered the U.S. in mid-August with special visas and were participating in the agency’s Sensitive Investigative Unit Program.

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