Lebanese Drug Lord Indicted, Linked to Hizballah Funding
A Lebanese drug lord, with connections to Hizballah, has been indicted on charges of moving over 100 tons of Colombian cocaine to the Zetas drug cartel and into the United States. Propublica.org's Sebastian Rotella calls it a "politically explosive case" that the terrorist organization funds itself through drug sales to America, which is backed up by previous government press releases.
"Ayman Joumaa is accused of facilitating the shipments of huge amounts of cocaine for the United States while laundering the proceeds all over the globe," said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart in the Justice Department's press release. "According to information from sources, his alleged drug and money laundering activities facilitated numerous global drug trafficking organizations, including the criminal activities of the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel. DEA and our partners will continue to expose and dismantle these worldwide networks," he added.
The case builds on the January 2011 Drug Enforcement Agency designation of Joumaa as a "Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker." In January, the U.S. government stated that the proceeds of his international drug smuggling topped $200 million a month, and that this money was being funneled through the Lebanese Canadian Bank [LCB] to Hizballah.
"LCB managers are also linked to Hizballah officials outside of Lebanon," said a Treasury Department statement from February. "For example, Hizballah's Tehran-based envoy Abdallah Safieddine was involved in Iranian officials' access to LCB and key LCB managers, who provide them banking services." LCB was also identified in February as a "financial institution of primary money laundering concern."
Rotella writes that the investigation is politically sensitive because of differing international views of Hizballah, as well as its involvement in the drug trade. "The indictment does not reflect all of the information that the government has," the news agency quoted a Justice Department official as saying. "It's accurate that Treasury's previous statement connected Mr. Joumaa to Hezbollah. The investigation is ongoing."