NEW YORK - Despite an Afghan tribal chiefs pleas that he had helped the United States for years in its war against the Taliban, a judge here sentenced him to life in prison on Thursday for heroin smuggling. Bashir Noorzai, a head of the one million-member Noorzai tribe in Afghanistan, was convicted in September of two charges of conspiring to import heroin into the United States and conspiring to distribute it. Prosecutors had said Noorzai led an international trafficking organisation since 1990 that manufactured heroin in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They said he helped the Taliban come to power and gave explosives and weapons in return for protection of his opium crops. Noorzai said he had cooperated with US authorities since the 1990s, by helping the CIA buy back stinger missiles and collect weapons America funnelled to the Mujahideen during its conflict with the former Soviet Union. Then following the Sept 11 attacks, he said he had met US operatives and provided information on the Taliban. He said they promised he would not be arrested if he came to the US. In all my life, I never did anything against the US government, the US people and the US legal system, Noorzai said through an interpreter in Manhattan federal court. Noorzai flew to New York voluntarily in 2005 and told Drug Enforcement Administration agents he had come to meet with US officials to discuss Afghanistans future. He was questioned over 11 days in a Manhattan hotel room and arrested. In sentencing him, US District Judge Denny Chin noted Noorzais history and his circumstances in coming to the US were unusual but said he could not second guess the US government on whether they should have arrested him. They are foreign policy considerations, said judge Chin. Regardless of his cooperation, Noorzais narcotics dealings had caused devastation in the US, the judge said. Noorzai caused harm to people all over the world by flooding the world with an incredibly addictive poison, US prosecutor Anirudh Bansal said during the hearing.