Hizballah Is Moving Its Drug and Money-Laundering Operation to Paraguay https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/politics-current-affairs/2020/09/hizballah-is-moving-its-drug-and-money-laundering-operation-to-paraguay/

September 23, 2020 | Emanuele Ottolenghi
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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 on Dispatch: https://thedispatch.com/p/how-hezbollah-collaborates-with-latin

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