There have been no confirmed cases of the Lebanon-based Islamist group Hezbollah moving terrorists across the Mexico border to carry out attacks in the United States, but a former DEA official says that the group is working with Mexican drug cartels and has already used their smuggling routes to get supporters into the U.S., the Washington Times reported March 27.
Michael Braun, recently retired assistant administrator and chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said that Hezbollah relied on “the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels.”
“They work together,” Braun said. “They rely on the same shadow facilitators. One way or another, they are all connected. They’ll leverage those relationships to their benefit, to smuggle contraband and humans into the U.S.; in fact, they already are [smuggling].”
One U.S. counterterrorism official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that while “there’s reason to believe that [Hezbollah members] have looked at the southern border to enter the U.S. … to date their success has been extremely limited.”
Adm. James G. Stavridis, commander of U.S. Southern Command and the Obama administration’s nominee to head NATO troops as Supreme Allied Commander-Europe, said that the connection between drug traffickers — “including routes, profits, and corruptive influence” and “Islamic radical terrorism” — is a growing threat.
In testimony before the House Armed Services committee, he noted that, “U.S. Southern Command supported a DEA operation, in coordination with host countries, which targeted a Hezbollah-connected drug trafficking organization in the Tri-Border Area [of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil].”
DEA spokesman Garrison Courtney estimated that 60 percent of terrorist organizations have some ties with the illegal narcotics trade.