DEA sees Hezbollah link to Colombian cartel

Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah is laundering money for the "Oficina de Envigado," said to be the successor organization to Colombia's legendary Medellín Cartel, according to the DEA. In a Feb. 1 press release, the agency said that members of Hezbollah's External Security Organization Business Affairs Component (BAC) is part of a transnational drug-trafficking scheme that involves "South American drug cartels, such as La Oficina de Envigado." According to the statement, the BAC uses the "black peso money laundering system" established by the Medellín Cartel to launder profits from European cocaine sales through money exchange offices in Colombia and overseas. "These drug trafficking and money laundering schemes utilized by the Business Affairs Component provide a revenue and weapons stream for an international terrorist organization responsible for devastating terror attacks around the world," said DEA acting deputy administrator Jack Riley.

The statement said the DEA and its European partners have carried out a number of arrests of figures connected to the BAC in France, Germany, Italy and Belgium. This wave of arrests "once again highlights the dangerous global nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism," the statement said.

The Oficina de Envigado is a syndicate of urban militias with ties to the Urabeños, a paramilitary network that has become Colombia's most powerful drug trafficking organization. (Colombia Reports, Feb. 2)

This is the latest in a series of reports of Islamist militant operations in Latin America.