INSIGHT CRIME — The DEA has revealed money laundering links between the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah and Colombian mafia group the Oficina de Envigado. However, any assertions of a mass-scale narco-terrorism nexus should be taken with a pinch of salt.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has claimed that the Hezbollah’s global drug trafficking network, known as the External Security Organization Business Affairs Component (BAC), has “established business relationships with South American drug cartels, such as the Oficina de Envigado.”
The assertion was made in a press release describing the arrest of various members of the BAC — responsible for transnational criminal activities such as drug trafficking and the laundering of drug proceeds. The dirty money is reportedly used to buy weapons for use in the Hezbollah’s activities in Syria.
The Colombia-Hezbollah laundering system reportedly begins in Europe, from where millions of euros worth of profits from drug sales are transported to the Middle East, via an intricate network of money couriers. The funds are then sent back to drug traffickers in Colombia through Hawala — an informal distribution system that uses brokers to transfer money and currency. A large amount of these proceeds reportedly transit through Lebanon, and a “significant percentage” remains in Hezbollah coffers.