HomeNewsBriefUS Treasury Points to Hezbollah Presence in LatAm
BRIEF

US Treasury Points to Hezbollah Presence in LatAm

MONEY LAUNDERING / 19 JUL 2012 BY CHRISTOPHER LOOFT EN

The US Treasury Department has blacklisted four Venezuelan and Lebanese men under the Kingpin Act for supporting an international drug trafficking and money laundering network linked to Hezbollah, revealing some of the group's activities in the Americas.

One of the designees, Abbas Hussein Harb, a Venezuelan and Lebanese dual citizen, runs a Colombia and Venezuela-based organization that has laundered millions of dollars for Lebanese drug lord and previous Kingpin Act designee, the Lebanese drug lord Ayman Joumaa, who was indicted by a US court in late 2011. Another designee reportedly used his position as a bank branch manager in Lebanon to help move money for Harb and Joumaa. Harb's and Saleh's brothers were both also designated under the Kingpin act.

Ali Mohamed Saleh, a Lebanese Colombian national and former Hezbollah fighter who was designated under the Kingpin Act in December 2011, is accused of leading a cell to raise money for Hezbollah in Maicao, Colombia. He was designated under the Treasury's anti-terror authority, Executive Order 13224. Saleh, according to a Treasury press release, solicited donations for the group and coordinated cash and check transfers using couriers who traveled to Lebanon through Venezuela. He was previously blacklisted for laundering money for a criminal group linked to the drug lord Ayman Joumaa.

A Treasury official told InSight Crime the terrorism designation for Saleh changes his legal status and puts him on terrorist watchlists, in addition to the secondary effect of publicizing his status as a supporter of terrorism. The Kingpin designation blocks US citizens and businesses from working with the four men and freezes any US assets they own.

The department also sanctioned three businesses owned by Harb and Saleh, two of them in Colombia and one in Venezuela.

InSight Crime Analysis

The designation follows a report by an Italian newspaper alleging that Iran and Hezbollah were plotting a terror attack in Latin America, which seemingly has not come to fruition, despite some voices who insist on Hezbollah's terrorist ambitions in the region.

These latest Kingpin Act designations highlight Hezbollah's presence in Latin America, but the threat that the militant group presents to the region should not be overhyped. Hezbollah does receive a substantial amount of money in the form of remittances from South America, especially Paraguay's tri-border area shared with Brazil and Argentina, a hub for all varieties of smuggling and counterfeiting. The tri-border area has a large Lebanese population, some elements of which are thought to provide financial support to the group. But there is little evidence that Hezbollah is actively involved in directing criminal enterprises in the region.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 25 MAR 2011

Colombia's government warned that drug traffickers may launch fake campaigns in the October local elections in order to launder…

ELITES AND CRIME / 12 DEC 2013

Mexico's Attorney General's Office has newly opened investigations into allegations that President Enrique Peña Nieto accepted funds from a possible…

MEXICO / 5 OCT 2017

Mexico's Supreme Court has declared it unconstitutional to freeze the bank accounts of organized crime suspects without sufficient evidence…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…