DEA uncovers major drug trafficking by Hezbollah to fund global terrorism
Arrests indicate dangerous global connection between drug trafficking and terrorism.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced on Tuesday that it uncovered major international criminal activity by Shi’ite Islamist group Hezbollah, in which it used funds from drug trafficking operations to purchase weapons and fund its other activities.
Several arrests, targeting what the DEA referred to as the Lebanese Hezbollah’s External Security Organization Business Affairs Component (BAC), were conducted by the DEA and international law enforcement from seven other countries. The arrests indicate the dangerous global connection between drug trafficking and terrorism.
The arrests were part of the DEA’S “Project Cassandra” which targets and monitors the global network of Hezbollah activities responsible for moving large quantities of cocaine in the US and Europe. The lead came from an initial investigation that had been conducted into the Lebanese-Canadian Bank.
“DEA and our international partners are relentless in our commitment to disrupt any attempt by terrorists and terrorist organizations to leverage the drug trade against our nations. DEA and our partners will continue to dismantle networks who exploit the nexus between drugs and terror using all available law enforcement mechanisms,” said DEA Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Riley.
The Lebanese Hezbollah External Security Organization Business Affairs Component (BAC), was founded by deceased former Hezbollah Senior Leader Imad Mughniyah. It currently operates under the control of Abdallah Safieddine, and Adham Tabaja who recently became a US Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT).
Over the years, Hezbollah had set up business relationships with drug cartels in South America, such as La Oficina de Envigado, who are the major suppliers of cocaine to the US and Europe. The Hezbollah BAC continues to launder significant profits from this drug exchange in a trade-based scheme known as the Black Market Peso Exchange.
“These drug trafficking and money laundering schemes utilized by the Business Affairs Component provide a revenue and weapons stream for an international terrorist organization responsible for devastating terror attacks around the world,” said Riley.
Starting in February of 2015, DEA and foreign law enforcement bodies in Europe initiated an operation targeting BAC’s criminal activities in Europe. Since then, European forces have uncovered an extremely intricate and interwoven network in a number of countries, called “money countries” by DEA, over which millions of euros in drug-sponsored funds from Europe to the Middle East are collected and transported.
The profits from these money countries are then transferred to Colombia for payment of drug traffickers, while large portions of payments have been found to make their transit through Lebanon.
This complex web of drug sales and profits to the Middle East significantly benefits terrorist organizations in the region, namely Hezbollah.
The DEA and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), working closely with European counterparts in France, Germany, Italy and
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