US bust Hezbollah network sending drug money to Syria
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced on Monday that members of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah had been arrested on charges they used millions of dollars from the sale of cocaine in the United States and Europe to purchase weapons in Syria.
Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to support the Syrian army’s ground offensives in the country’s center, north, and northwest, recently bolstered by Russian air strikes.
The arrests targeted a division of the terror organization that provides “a revenue and weapons stream … responsible for devastating terror attacks around the world,” DEA Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Riley said in a statement.
The investigation “once again highlights the dangerous global nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism,” the statement said.
Mohamad Noureddine, who the DEA accuses of being a Lebanese money launderer for Hezbollah’s financial arm, was one of those arrested and taken into custody last week, the DEA statement said.
The United States has labeled Noureddine a specially designated global terrorist, it said.
Seven countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Belgium, were involved in the investigation that began in February 2015 and is ongoing.
The US Treasury on Thursday named two Lebanese men it said laundered money for Hezbollah to its sanctions blacklist.
The Treasury said Noureddine and Hamdi Zaher El Dine worked through Noureddine’s Beirut company Trade Point International to move money for Hezbollah-linked businesses and individuals already on US blacklists.
“Noureddine has utilized an extensive network across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East to provide money laundering, bulk cash shipment, black market currency exchange, and other financial services to a variety of clients, including Hezbollah members,” the Treasury said in a statement.
Hamdi Zaher El Dine was an employee of Trade Point.
Hezbollah is officially labeled a terrorist group by the United States.
Sanctions seek to lock individuals and companies out of the global financial system by banning Americans and any US institutions from doing business with those on the blacklist.