Hezbollah operatives run drugs, human trafficking rings in Venezuela

The activities were carried out with the protection of the socialist Maduro government, as the country has close ties to Iran. 

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News

Hezbollah operatives in Venezuela have been engaging in a range of criminal activities, including drug smuggling, human trafficking, and money laundering to finance terror, all under the protection of the socialist Maduro government, hackers have discovered.

The find came when a group known as Team HDP broke into a database belonging to the country’s Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence, in an operation carried out with the cooperation of former state intelligence officials, according to Israel Hayom.

One of the hackers told the paper that the terrorists had posed as Spanish language students enrolled in “government language studies programs” via Margarita island to gain entry to the Southern American country.

Once in the country, they engaged in money laundering to finance Hezbollah terror operations, as well as arms and drug trafficking.

Many of the operatives are members of the Maklad family, which originally hails from the Syrian Druze village of As-Suwayda near the Jordanian-Syrian border. However, the family have been resident of Margarita Island, off the coast of Venezuela for generations, according to one local.

“The Maklad Family has lived there for four generations, but the ties to Hezbollah were forged not long ago,” the source told Israel Hayom.

“They are the sole owners of the local airport in Santiago Marinho and they have direct ties to Petroleum Minister El Aissami. They are very protected and they don’t get off the island. It’s their kingdom, and they have immunity,” he explained.

Former vice president Tareck El Aissami was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2017 over money laundering and facilitating the drug trade. Two years later he was placed upon the US Customs and Immigration Enforcement’s Most Wanted List.

The source added that agents currently active in military intelligence played a role in leaking the report.

Among the family members implicated in the report are Rabi Maklad, who has dealings in cocaine, the strategic mineral trade, human trafficking of women and children, and money laundering to finance terrorism. The report details that he “is one of the organized crime heads with trade ties in Columbia.”

Another, Majdi Maklad, deals in cocaine, weapons, and ammunition trafficking.

Jalal Maklad is described in the report as being “involved in the cocaine trade and the trafficking of strategic minerals and international terror financing.” It also details that he currently lives in the Venezuelan state of Neuva Esparta, as does another operative, Hayyan al-Matthani, who is said to be active within the Druze community.

Al-Matthani is listed as trading weapons and ammunition throughout the Caribbean, including on the Dutch islands and the British Virgin Islands.

The socialist country is one of Iran’s foremost South American allies, with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian announcing recently that the countries are set to sign a 20-year strategic plan.

The Venezuelan state-run oil firm PDVSA also sent Iran some 2 million barrels of heavy crude oil last week, which departed the country in an Iranian tanker.