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Hezbollah associate laundered drug cartel money in Miami banks: Feds

October 12, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Hezbollah associate laundered drug cartel money in Miami banks: Feds

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Three reported members of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah allegedly laundered $500,000 from a drug cartel in Colombia through banks in South Florida in a case that emphasizes the increasing collaboration between cartels in Latin America and Middle Eastern terrorist organizations.

Federal prosecutors in Miami have charged 32-year-old Mohammad Ahmad Ammar, who was living in Colombia, with money laundering. Another suspect was apprehended in France, and a third remains at-large.

Ammar’s arrest stemmed from a DEA investigation into Colombian cocaine organizations, which led to the capture of dozens of money laundering and drug trafficking suspects. Ammar was allegedly collaborating with Colombia’s Oficina de Envigado and laundered money through the U.K., Spain, Holland, Australia and Africa.

Hassan Mohsen Mansour, another Hezbollah member — who has dual Canadian and Lebanese citizenship, is behind bars in Paris and is facing similar charges in Florida, Fox News reported.

Ghassan Diab, the third suspect, is a family member of a “high-ranking member of Hezbollah who has access to numerous international bank accounts,” the Miami Herald reported. He is still on the lam and is believed to be either in Nigeria or Lebanon.

In a statement, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said: “Drug dealers, potential terrorists and money launderers should all get the message that Miami-Dade County is not the place to do your dirty business.”

Although cooperation between drug traffickers and terror organizations is not new, authorities indicated that the rates have been increasing.

Brazilian police documents revealed that links have been established between weapon traffickers associated with Hezbollah and the First Capital Command (PCC), the Brazilian prison gang. The records from 2014 indicated that Hezbollah associates working in the tri-border region of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay provided weapons to the PCC in exchange for the protection of Lebanese inmates in Brazilian jails.

Aside from putting the PCC in contact with weapons dealers in the illegal arms market, the alleged Hezbollah traffickers also served as intermediaries in the sale of C4 bombs that the PCC took from Paraguay.

In early 2016, the DEA said that Hezbollah’s External Security Organization Business Affairs Component has built business contacts with drug cartels, such as Oficina de Envigado, to bring substantial volumes of cocaine from Latin America to Europe.

The criminal group is also reportedly responsible for laundering drug profits as part of a money laundering conspiracy referred to as the “Black Market Peso Exchange.”

“It’s money for the terrorists and a market for the drug traffickers,” said Barbara Carreno, a DEA spokesperson, in an interview with Fox News Latino. “It’s quid pro quo.”

The entire amount of money made for Hezbollah by laundering drug cartel profits is unknown, and Ammar’s arrest warrant asserted that many of the group’s members are “are more concerned with generating cash than religious or political doctrine.”

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