The US is relaunching its efforts to fight Hezbollah’s global drug trafficking and money laundering operation.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday announced the creation of the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team (HFNT), a group of experienced international narcotics trafficking, terrorism, organized crime, and money laundering prosecutors that will fight Hezbollah’s global operation to finance itself through drug trafficking.
HFNT prosecutors and investigators are tasked with investigating individuals and networks providing support to Hezbollah, and pursuing prosecutions in any appropriate cases.
The HFNT will begin by assessing the evidence in existing investigations, including cases stemming from Project Cassandra, a law enforcement initiative targeting Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and related operations.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division will supervise the HFNT, and will convene a coordination meeting focused on identifying and combating support to Hezbollah.
The HFNT will coordinate interface with other US law enforcement agencies.
“The Justice Department will leave no stone unturned in order to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organizations and to stem the tide of the devastating drug crisis,” said Sessions. “In an effort to protect Americans from both threats, the Justice Department will assemble leading investigators and prosecutors to ensure that all Project Cassandra investigations as well as other related investigations, whether past or present, are given the needed resources and attention to come to their proper resolution. The team will initiate prosecutions that will restrict the flow of money to foreign terrorist organizations as well as disrupt violent international drug trafficking operations.
“The investigation and prosecution of terrorist organizations that contribute to the growing drug crisis are a priority for this administration,” said Cronan. “The HFNT will use all appropriate tools to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who provide financial support to Hezbollah in an effort to eradicate the illicit networks that fuel terrorism and the drug crisis.”
This new team is taking action following a report by Politico last month that the Obama administration derailed a DEA campaign targeting drug trafficking operations by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. The administration’s actions were allegedly designed to avoid antagonizing the Iranians.
The DEA campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, tracked Hezbollah’s vast global criminal network, which trafficked drugs around the globe, collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons sales, money laundering and other criminal activities.
As a consequence, the US government “lost insight” into Hezbollah’s drug trafficking operation as well as other aspects of its vast criminal operations worldwide, the report charged.
Sessions has ordered a probe into the Obama administration’s reported hindering of drug investigations involving the Hezbollah terror group.