The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced finding on Feb. 2 that Hezbollah is using money from drugs to fund terrorist activities.
The announcement comes amid revelations about the troubling ties between international drug trafficking and terrorist groups, reports the Jerusalem Post.
Members of Hezbollah’s Lebanese branch were reportedly arrested by the DEA in cooperation with an international law enforcement coalition. Hezbollah is responsible for trafficking cocaine into Europe and the U.S. to finance arms purchases and other activities.
“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,” commented DEA Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Riley.
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Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., reports Reuters.
The DEA accused Hezbollah of allegedly using drug money to finance their allied factions in the the Syrian conflict.
The organization has sent soldiers to bolster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime throughout the conflict.
The terrorist organization has reportedly forged relationships with South American drug traffickers to finance its operations. In an international trade system known as the Black Market Peso Exchange, Hezbollah profits from the drug trade by covertly laundering drug revenue.
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“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,” commented Riley.
An operation carried out by the DEA and European security forces in February, 2015 attempted to stop the Hezbollah BAC’s activities in Europe. During the operation, an extraordinarily complex network was uncovered by law enforcement that funnels drug profits to Hezbollah.
Millions of dollars were found to be funneled from drug sales in Europe and the United States to terrorist organizations supported by Hezbollah in the Middle East.
Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam J. Szubin expressed the U.S.’s commitment to stopping drug money from reaching terrorists.
“We will continue to target this vulnerability, and expose and disrupt such enablers of terrorism wherever we find them,” stated Szubin.