Colombia: Hezbollah tie to drug gang claimed
Colombian authorities announced Oct. 21 they've broken up a drug and money laundering ring in an international operation that included the capture of three suspected of shipping funds to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. More than 100 suspects were arrested in Colombia and overseas on charges that they trafficked drugs and laundered cash for Colombia's Norte del Valle cartel.
"The criminal organization used routes through Venezuela, Panama, Guatemala, the Middle East and Europe, bringing in cash from the sale of these substances," read a statement from the Colombian attorney general's office, the Fiscalía. Three suspects—Chekry Mahmoud Harb AKA "Taliban," Ali Mohamad Abdul Rahim AKA "Ali" and Zacaria Hussein Harb AKA "Zac"—are accused of using front companies to send drug cash overseas, the statement said, without providing further details.
The operation, code-named "Titan," was coordinated by Colombia's Fiscalía and DAS secret police and the US DEA. Ninety arrests were carried out in Panama, Guatemala, the US, Lebanon and Hong Kong. The statement said $750,000 in cash, as well as cocaine and heroin were seized in Bogotá, Cali, Medellín and Pereira.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah denied any links with the drug ring. "This is part of a Zionist campaign against the movement to defame its picture and they are based on pure lies," said Nawaf al Mussawi, Hezbollah's foreign affairs officer. Mussawi met with the Colombian Ambassador to Lebanon, Georgina Mallat, and handed her a letter of protest, stating that Hezbollah "does not participate in outlawed missions." (DPA, Oct. 23; Reuters, Oct. 22; Colprensa, Oct. 21)