The Islamist militant group and political party based in Lebanon, Hezollah has been linked to drug cartels operating across Latin America.
These cartels are “moving [multiple] tons of cocaine” from South America to Europe, according to former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) operations chief, Michael Braun.
Braun also said that the Hezollah has developed “the most sophisticated money laundering scheme or schemes that we have ever witnessed” and that the organization has “metastasized into a hydra with international connections that the likes of [the Islamic State] and groups like al Qaeda could only hope to have.”
In February, the DEA had arrested Hezollah operatives who were allegedly working with Colombian drug cartels to smuggle drugs to Europe, while laundering money through Lebanon.
This just reaffirms that Middle East terrorist groups have relationships with other groups in the Western Hemisphere.
These smugglers aren’t only bringing Cocaine to the masses in the Western Hemisphere. At least a dozen Illegal immigrants from South Asia and the Middle East have been smuggled into the US by a Brazilian-based network. One of which was an Afghan man who has a family connection to the Taliban and was “involved in a plot to conduct an attack in the U.S. and/or Canada,” according to officials.
Authorities discovered that the Hezollah group has formed strong connections with large South American drug cartels, including Colombia-based Oficina de Envigado. Money made from this trade in South America is being used to buy weapons and fund the terrorist organization’s activities. To move the money around, the terrorist group has a network of money couriers who transport the millions of euros made from the drug trade from Europe to the Middle East.
“A large portion of the drug proceeds was found to transit through Lebanon, and a significant percentage of these proceeds are benefiting terrorist organizations, namely Hezbollah,” reported the agency.
The investigation on the money laundering schemes involved multiple countries, including Germany, France, Belgium and Italy.
The US should still be wary of the Hezbollah since Latin America is in relatively close proximity to North America.
This terrorist group has much more supporters than we know, especially in Brazil.
“Hezbollah generates loyalty among the local Shia communities by managing their religious and educational structures,” said Emanuele Ottolenghi, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Wednesday’s hearing. “It then leverages loyalty to solicit funds and use business connections to its own advantage, including, critically, to facilitate its interactions with organized crime.”
He then urged both the administration and Congress to “aggressively focus” on the terrorist group’s activities in Latin America.