A Hezbollah terrorist cell in Europe has been arrested by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency for drug trafficking and money laundering.
The Lebanon-based terrorist organization has established business relationships with a number of drug cartels in South America, according to DEA acting deputy administrator Jack Riley.
“These drug trafficking and money laundering schemes utilized by the Business Affairs Component [of Hezbollah] provide a revenue and weapons stream for an international terrorist organization responsible for devastating terror attacks around the world,” he said.
Members of the Lebanon-based terror organization have previously been accused of using drug sales as a means of funding the group’s operations.
Hezbollah is accused of using the profits from the sale of cocaine in the United States and Europe to fund arms purchases for military use in Syria, according to the DEA.
Mohamad Noureddine, a “Lebanese money launderer,” was described by the DEA as working directly with Hezbollah to transfer its money via his Lebanon-based firm, Trade Point International S.A.R.L. The firm “maintained direct ties to Hezbollah commercial and terrorist elements in both Lebanon and in Iraq,” according to the DEA.
Last week, sanctions were imposed against Hezbollah by the U.S. Treasury Department targeting its money launderers Noureddine and Hamdi Zaher El Dine, as well as Trade Point International S.A.R.L.
“Hezbollah needs individuals like Mohamad Noureddine and Hamdi Zaher El Dine to launder criminal proceeds for use in terrorism and political destabilization, Adam J. Szubin, the acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence said.
“We will continue to target this vulnerability, and expose and disrupt such enablers of terrorism wherever we find them.”
The “ongoing investigation spans the globe and involves numerous international law enforcement agencies in seven countries, and once again highlights the dangerous global nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism,” the U.S. agency said in a statement on Monday.
“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,” Riley said. “DEA and our partners will continue to dismantle networks who exploit the nexus between drugs and terror using all available law enforcement mechanisms.”Hana Levi Julian