The Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah is working with Mexican cartels, said Lieutenant General Kenneth E. Tovo, deputy commander of the U.S. Southern Command before the 114th. Congress Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
During a hearing by the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee, Tovo explained that Hezbollah, “which has long viewed the region as a potential attack venue against Israeli or other Western targets, has supporters and sympathizers in Lebanese diaspora communities in Latin America, some of whom are involved in lucrative illicit activities like money laundering and trafficking in counterfeit goods and drugs.”
“I think it is fair to say that there is a good amount of profit that Lebanese Hezbollah makes off of illegal trafficking,” Tovo added.
In the general’s opinion, “the relative ease with which human smugglers moved tens of thousands of people to our nation’s doorstep also serves as another warning sign: these smuggling routes are a potential vulnerability to our homeland. As I stated last year, terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens or even bring weapons of mass destruction into the United States.”
In May 2011 an Iranian-American car seller who lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, identified as Manssor Arbabsiar, met a man that he believed was a member of the Mexican cartel Los Zetas and offered him US $1.5 million to murder the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
Over the next four months in 2011, Arbabsiar, a spy for the Royal Forces, a special operations unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards of Iran, and another person posing as his “cousin” met in Mexico with the man they thought was a member of Los Zetas, who was actually an undercover agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
The DEA agent requested that the money was deposited in a bank controlled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Soon after, in September 2011, Arbabsiar was captured with the help of Mexican authorities, accused of trying to assassinate a diplomat based in Washington, DC.
About the relationship of Hezbollah with drug trafficking, U.S. Marine General John Kelly, commander of the Southern Command, said in a speech delivered to an audience at the National Defense University in Washington in October 2014 that “we know that some of the [cocaine] money that comes out of the United States is laundered into the coffers of Hezbollah.”
Lieutenant General Kenneth E. Tovo, deputy commander of the U.S. Southern Command, said that the extremist group has supporters and sympathizers in Lebanese diaspora communities in Latin America, some of whom are involved in lucrative illicit activities like money laundering and trafficking in counterfeit goods and drugs.
According to Tom Diaz, former senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center, Hezbollah is heavily involved with drug trafficking in Mexico, even though he says that their relationship does not involve terrorist activities against the United States “still”.
After the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States was discovered in 2012, Sue Myrick, a Republican lawmaker from North Carolina, along with U.S. civilian and legislative groups, asked the U.S. government to investigate the presence of Hezbollah members in Mexico and any relation they may have with Mexican drug cartels.
A fact that supports the U.S. military intelligence report is the arrest of Jameel Nasar in July 2010 in Tijuana, Baja California, accused of trying to establish a Hezbollah network in Mexico and South America. The incident was reported by the Tucson Police Department. Also in 2005, a British citizen named Amer Haykel, an alleged member of Al-Qaeda, was arrested in Baja California, Mexico.