Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Hezb'allah and the Southern Border - Rovvy Lepor

by Rovvy Lepor

The U.S. must move aggressively to stop Hezb'allah's drug trade, using every available tool.

The southern U.S. border remains mostly unprotected while Democrats remain determined to prevent building the border wall. Meanwhile, cocaine continues to flow into the United States, smuggled in partly by the Hezb'allah terrorist organization. The drug epidemic has cost a great number of lives, and the federal government must stop the flow of drugs by building a border wall, and by using new technologies to detect intrusion into the U.S.

Hezb'allah has murdered hundreds of citizens over the years, including in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing that killed 241 service personnel and the Beirut embassy bombing that killed 17 Americans. These attacks demonstrate that Hezb'allah is an enemy of the United States and is aligned with the Iranian regime's "death to America" mindset.

However, the billions of dollars of cocaine and other narcotics that Hezb'allah smuggles into the United States and other countries each year is even more dangerous. According to an exhaustive 2017 Politico report by Josh Meyer, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) initiated Project Cassandra in 2008 to investigate Hezb'allah's involvement in widespread drug-trafficking and put a stop to it.

The Politico report reveals how Hezb'allah has been raking in $200 million per month from cocaine and other drug sales. Ayman Joumaa is a drug kingpin who has worked in concert with Mexico's violent and murderous Los Zetas drug cartel to move multi-ton loads of cocaine directly into the United States. Joumaa's network would launder the drug income through the purchase of used cars at about 300 dealerships in the U.S. The cars would be sent to West Africa to sell. The proceeds from those sold cars would be couriered to Lebanon to fund Hezb'allah's terrorism. This scheme was reported as early as 2011 in the New York Times.

In November 2011, prosecutors indicted Joumaa in absentia, accusing him of conspiring with Los Zetas and drug-suppliers in Colombia and Venezuela to smuggle at least 85,000 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S. and launder hundreds of millions of dollars in proceeds. The above mentioned New York Times report from December 2011 made clear that Joumaa was connected to Hezb'allah and, according to Israeli intelligence, worked for a senior Hezb'allah operative believed by Israel to be in charge of Hezb'allah's drug operations.

Notwithstanding the vast amount of evidence gathered by Project Cassandra, by the end of 2012, according to the Politico report, "senior officials at the Justice Department's National Security and Criminal divisions, and at the State Department and National Security Council, had shut down, derailed or delayed numerous other Hezb'allah-related cases with little or no explanation." This, notwithstanding that U.S. agents discovered that Iran had "an entire Quds force network" in the United States, which was "laundering money, moving drugs and illegally smuggling Bell helicopters, night-vision goggles, and other items for Iran." As of May 2018, Lebanon was working to protect Hezb'allah's drug trade.

The Politico report, quoting a former CIA officer, made it clear that the Obama administration, at the request of the Iranian nuclear negotiators, shut down the investigation of Hezb'allah. The officer said, "It was a strategic decision to show good faith toward the Iranians in terms of reaching an agreement," adding that the Obama administration "really, really, really wanted the deal." According to Derek Maltz, the longtime head of DEA Special Operations, many Project Cassandra agents will always believe that "we were shut down because of the Iran deal," adding, "it certainly contributed to why we got pushed aside and picked apart."

Hezb'allah has the sophistication, knowledge and wherewithal to cause tremendous harm to the U.S. and its allies. One significant example, according to a 2010 Pentagon report, is Hezb'allah's contribution that enabled Shiite terrorist groups to "employ sophisticated improvised explosive devices (IEDs), incorporating lessons learned from operations in Southern Lebanon."

According to David Asher, an illicit finance expert who worked on Project Cassandra, there was a clear link between the drug money Hezb'allah received from its sale of Colombian cocaine and the financing of IEDs used to kill American soldiers. That link is Abdallah Safieddine, Hezb'allah's envoy to Iran and cousin of Hassan Nasrallah, who also allegedly oversaw Hezb'allah's "Business Affairs Component" involved in international drug-trafficking. Safieddine was involved with weapons that Hezb'allah received from the drug network. He even oversaw Hezb'allah's efforts to help Iran procure components and technology for its ballistic missile and clandestine nuclear programs.

In 2015, General Joseph Dunford confirmed that estimates place U.S. military deaths from Iranian IEDs (often with Hezb'allah's help) at about 500, though the number may be significantly higher. According to a June 2018 report published by the Congressional Research Service, the total number of active-duty military deaths from IEDs since 2006 is 1,992, with 1,082 deaths in Iraq and 910 deaths in Afghanistan.

Hezb'allah's cocaine-smuggling has had tragic consequences in the United States. Hezb'allah's annual sale of cocaine and other drugs has reached $2.4 billion. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis of 2015-2016 data from 31 states and Washington, D.C., there was a staggering 52.4% increase in cocaine-related overdose deaths over the period of just one year.

According to figures provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. has seen an astonishing rise in cocaine overdose deaths, largely driven by the rise in use of opioids. Cocaine overdose deaths without the use of opioids increased by 150% from 2010 to 2016 and more than tripled when cocaine was used together with opioids. Cocaine deaths have continued a steep climb with an estimated 14,556 in 2017, up from 10,375 in 2016. As of 2015, new cocaine-users had increased to 968,000, almost completely spurred by Colombia's booming cocaine industry, with a 61% increase in cocaine use from 2013 to 2015 (5% of those aged 18 to 25 took cocaine in 2015).

A border wall has proven its effectiveness in practice, not just in theory. The year after completion of El Paso's border wall, "the volume of marijuana and cocaine coming through El Paso and seized by Border Patrol agents has been cut in half." President Trump has already approved 124 miles of border barriers, some of which have been installed. While there are many other ways drugs can enter the U.S. aside from the southern border, including the introduction of drone delivery, the border wall is a necessary component to stem the drug flow, illegal immigration, and human-trafficking. It should be used in conjunction with advanced technologies designed to detect border intrusion above ground as well as tunnel detection technology.

As of August 2017, the 1,954-mile southern border had a total of 705 miles of barriers, leaving 1,249 miles open. There are currently about 354 miles of primary pedestrian fencing, protecting only about 18% of the southern U.S. border. Democrats claim to want new technologies to protect the border but refuse to agree to build a border wall.

To prevent thousands of additional deaths at the hands of the Hezb'allah terrorist organization, the Trump administration should use unauthorized appropriations to fund the border wall and advanced border security technologies. The U.S. must move aggressively to stop Hezb'allah's drug trade using every available tool, including ensuring a full commitment to projects like Project Cassandra to close down Hezb'allah's drug trade. It is high time that the lives and safety of ordinary Americans take center stage and that every measure is taken to protect the southern border from drug-smuggling and illegal immigration.

Rovvy Lepor

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2019/01/hezballah_and_the_southern_border.html

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment