U.S. authorities have accused a Lebanese man of selling Colombian cocaine to the Zetas and laundering money on their behalf, while using the profits to finance Hezbollah, a militant group based in Beirut.
According to the latest indictment, Ayman Joumaa, aka “Junior,”
(pictured) and his partners sold 85 tons of cocaine to the Zetas between
2005-2007, which was later trafficked into the U.S., and laundered some
$850 million in their profits for the group, some of it through the Lebanese Canadian Bank. The latest charges do not mention Hezbollah, though Joumaa was accused earlier this year by the Treasury of being part of a drug trafficking and money laundering ring which financed the group, reports ProPublica.According to the indictment, Joumaa’s group would charge the Zetas 8 to 14 percent for its money laundering services.
The story speaks to some of the U.S.’s worst fears about its enemies in the Middle East gaining ground in Latin America. ABC points out that
U.S. officials have long known about
[Hezbollah] operating in South America’s tri-border area in Paraguay,
Brazil and Argentina where the group runs drugs and large scale
counterfeiting networks, according to U.S. officials. In recent years
there has been more recent concern about the group establishing a
footprint in Central America.
Slate looks at the other side of the deal, pointing out that Lebanon would be a
good place for the Zetas to launder money, as it has highly secretive
banking regulations, while there is a large Lebanese community in
Mexico, with links to the Lebanese banking sector.The case is reminiscent of a supposed plot revealed by U.S.
authorities in October, which involved a representative of the Iranian
intelligence service making contact with people he thought were members
of the Zetas, in order to order a hit against Saudi Arabia’s ambassador
in Washington. As with that case, which did not quite add up,
it is worth treating with caution attempts to link Mexican trafficking
groups to Muslim militants, which have often appeared to be more based
on Washington’s fears than on evidence.
However, U.S. officials were cautious about asserting direct links
between the two groups in the latest case, pointing out that “It’s not
like there’s a sit-down between the leaders of Hezbollah and the Zetas,"
as ProPublica reports.
LINK = http://www.propublica.org/article/government-says-hezbollah-profits-from-us-cocaine-market-via-link-to-mexica
Tags: drug trade, cocaine, zetas, hezbollah, war on drugs, failed
Location: Washington, District of Columbia, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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