Hizballah Is Moving Its Drug and Money-Laundering Operation to Paraguay

In 2007, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) discovered that Hizballah, in cooperation with Colombian cartels, was arranging for the export of massive amounts of cocaine from Latin America to the Middle East. After many years of investigation—and the discovery of a vast global network of drug-dealing and money-laundering—the DEA and European agencies managed to roll up a large portion of the terrorist group’s operation in Colombia. Yet, writes Emanuele Ottolenghi, Hizballah’s criminal enterprises are still up and running, especially its export of “black cocaine”—a form of the drug ingeniously disguised as charcoal briquettes:

With cartels constantly trying to outsmart authorities in their game of hide-and-seek, it is possible that, after temporarily losing [its base of operations in] Colombia, Hizballah saw the Tri-Border Area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay—with its well-established money-laundering infrastructure—as the ideal place to rebuild the black-cocaine supply lines that [the DEA] had temporarily disrupted. The region has been described as having “the largest illicit economy in the world.”

Hizballah, after all, continues to be a key partner to cartels in Latin America. . . . Other criminal organizations are adept at producing drugs, running protection rackets, and monopolizing illicit businesses, but they lack global networks for shipping and distributing goods and laundering the proceeds. That is where Hizballah comes in, along with its willing collaborators in various Lebanese diaspora communities around the world.

Interdicting these shipments is not just part of the war on drugs and the battle against transnational criminal networks in America’s backyard. It is about disrupting terror finance as well—the lifeblood of terror plots that have killed and threaten to kill more Americans.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Drugs, Hizballah, Latin America


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security