Tags: Latin America | Middle East | Venezuela | cartel | cocaine | hezbollah

Paraguayan, Hezbollah Implicated in Drug Conspiracy in Miami

Image: Paraguayan, Hezbollah Implicated in Drug Conspiracy in Miami
In February of this year, Venezuela's Vice-President Tareck El Aissami, right, was saluted upon his arrival at Fort Tiuna in Caracas, Venezuela. 34 U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to President Trump urging him to pressure Venezuela by sanctioning officials responsible for corruption. The letter also calls for a probe into alleged drug trafficking and support for Mideast terror. (Fernando Llano/AP)

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Wednesday, 28 Jun 2017 05:14 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Hezbollah pleaded not guilty in Miami federal court on Monday, after being charged with conspiring to distribute massive amounts of cocaine to the United States, the Miami Herald reports.

Paraguay's authorities arrested Ali Issa Chamas in August at an international airport for attempting to smuggle 39 kilos of cocaine. Chamas was extradited to Miami in June and now awaits trial.

But Chamas' indictment failed to reference his intimate relationship to Hezbollah associates and operatives.

Chamas is of Lebanese origin and lived in Paraguay over the last decade. In addition to Brazil and Argentina, Paraguay is part of the Tri-Border Area (TBA), a region that enables Hezbollah to cultivate a major base of operations. With a large Muslim population featuring significant numbers of Hezbollah sympathizers, the terrorist organization uses this area for recruitment, arms smuggling and drug trafficking, and logistics planning for terrorist operations.

The State Department has declared that the TBA remains "an important regional nexus of arms, narcotics, pirated goods, human smuggling, counterfeiting, and money laundering – all potential funding sources for terrorist organizations."

Hezbollah also relies on legitimate businesses and front organizations in the region, diversifying its terrorist financing profile to generate a significant portion of its revenues from its Latin American operations.

With Venezuelan government help, the terrorist group continues to expand its presence and consolidate support in other Latin American countries. The Treasury Department revealed that Venezuela's Vice President Tareck El Aissami maintains intimate ties to Hezbollah and helped coordinate narcotics shipments to drug cartels operating on the U.S. border, including Mexico's infamous Los Zetas. In 2011, Virginia prosecutors said that a Lebanese man helped the Mexican Los Zetas drug cartel smuggle of more than 100 tons of Colombian cocaine. The U.S. Treasury Department claimed that Hezbollah benefitted financially from the criminal network.

Steven Emerson is executive director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism. He was a correspondent for CNN and a senior editor at U.S. News and World Report. Read more reports from Steve Emerson — Click Here Now.

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Hezbollah pleaded not guilty in Miami federal court on Monday, after being charged with conspiring to distribute massive amounts of cocaine to the United States, the Miami Herald reports.
cartel, cocaine, hezbollah
337
2017-14-28
Wednesday, 28 Jun 2017 05:14 PM
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