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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Feds Crack Down on Hezbollah Financing

(CN) - Arrests have been made in connection with Hezbollah's drug-trafficking and money-laundering operation, the government said Monday.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that it arrested leaders of Hezbollah's External Security Organization Business Affairs Component (BAC), which prosecutors claim is involved in drug trafficking and related money laundering.

The U.S. Treasury Department also implemented sanctions aimed at Hezbollah's financial network.

Members of the Hezbollah BAC have relationships with South American drug cartels that supply large amounts of cocaine to Europe and the United States, according to the federal government. They also allegedly launder money in a scheme called the Black Market Peso Exchange.

The drug money is used to buy weapons for Hezbollah's activities in Syria, the DEA said.

Hezbollah - which means "party of God" in Arabic - is a Lebanon-based Shia terrorist group. It was designated as a foreign terrorist group in 1997.

In February 2015, European authorities began an operation targeting Hezbollah's criminal activities in Europe, based on DEA tips. "An intricate network of money couriers" has since been uncovered, according to federal prosecutors.

Among those arrested last week is Mohamad Noureddine, a U.S.-designated global terrorist accused of laundering money for Hezbollah through his Lebanon-based company Trade Points International.

Treasury Department sanctions targeted Noureddine and Trade Points, freezing their U.S.-controlled assets. The sanctions also designated Hamdi Zaher El Dine as a financial supporter of Hezbollah.

The investigation began with an examination of the Lebanese Canadian Bank, according to the DEA.

DEA Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Riley said in a statement that the agency is committed to disrupting attempts by terrorists "to leverage the drug trade against our nations."

"These drug trafficking and money laundering schemes utilized by the [BAC] provide a revenue and weapons stream for an international terrorist organization responsible for devastating terror attacks around the world," Riley said.

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