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article imageHezbollah Working With Drug Cartels and Sharing Routes into U.S.

By Michael Krebs     Mar 27, 2009 in World
The former DEA chief says that Hezbollah is using Mexican drug routes to smuggle people and contraband into the United States. It is a troublesome partnership.
Troubles in the Middle East just became considerably more local, as comments from Michael Braun, former chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, confirmed that Hezbollah is in partnership with Mexican drug cartels and using the cartel's routes to smuggle people and contraband into the United States.
"They work together," Mr. Braun told Washington Times. "They rely on the same shadow facilitators. One way or another, they are all connected."
He confirmed in the Washington Times report that Hezbollah is already actively using the routes.
"They''ll leverage those relationships to their benefit, to smuggle contraband and humans into the U.S.; in fact, they already are [smuggling]," he said.
Hezbollah has a history of involvement in international drug traffic, working for years in South America.
The Iranian-backed Lebanese organization was formed in 1982 to repel Israel's invasion of Lebanon. It has since become a large-scale operation, with considerable influence militarily, politically, and socially throughout Lebanon.
The Washington Times report notes that no cases of Hezbollah-assisted terrorists entering the U.S. have been confirmed - but, "Hezbollah members and supporters have entered the country this way."
"The Mexican cartels have no loyalty to anyone," a U.S. security official working in Latin America told The Washington Times. "They will willingly or unknowingly aid other nefarious groups into the U.S. through the routes they control. It has already happened. That's why the border is such a serious national security issue."
A senior U.S. official, who chose anonymity for the Washington Times story, expressed concern about al Qaeda's potential to utilize similar routes.
Two weeks ago, a report surfaced on Voice of America that warned of Hezbollah involvement in Columbian drug traffic.
"That is of concern principally because of the connections between the government of Iran, which is a state sponsor of terrorism, and Hezbollah," Admiral Stavridis, commander of U.S. forces in Latin America said in the VOA report. "We see a great deal of Hezbollah activity throughout South America, in particular. [The] tri-border of Brazil is a particular concern, as in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, as well as [other] parts of Brazil and in the Caribbean Basin."
The U.S. recently question Brittain's outreach to Hezbollah, and the surfacing of these reports could be timed to the British-Hezbollah question. But whatever the motivation, the access is certainly dangerous.
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