...The Hezbollah business empire also extends into the drug trade. The Bekaa Valley, Lebanon’s central agricultural heartland, is controlled by Hezbollah and serves as a major center for growing poppies and cannabis and for producing heroin from raw materials arriving from places like Afghanistan and the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia. Indeed, Hezbollah controls a commanding percentage of the estimated $1 billion drug trade flowing out of the Bekaa. Much of the hashish and heroin emanating from there eventually arrives in Europe, where Hezbollah members also are involved in smuggling, car theft and the distribution of counterfeit goods and currency. Hezbollah operatives in the Western Hemisphere work with Latin American drug cartels to traffic cocaine into the lucrative markets of Europe, and there have been reports of Hezbollah members dealing drugs in the United States.
In recent years, Hezbollah also has become active in Central America and Mexico, the latter being an ideal place for the Iranians and Hezbollah to operate. Mexico has long been a favorite haunt for foreign intelligence officers from countries hostile to the United States, ranging from Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union, due to its close proximity to the United States and its very poor counterintelligence capability. Mexican government sources have told STRATFOR that the ability of the Mexican government to monitor an organization like Hezbollah is very limited. While Mexico has a domestic intelligence capability, it has historically oriented its efforts toward political opponents of the government and not toward foreign intelligence operatives operating on its soil. This is understandable, considering that the foreign intelligence officers are in Mexico because of its proximity to the United States and not necessarily to spy on Mexico. The Mexican government’s limited counterintelligence capacity has been further reduced by corruption and by the substantial amount of resources the Mexican government has been forced to dedicate to the cartel wars currently ravaging the country.
It is also convenient for Hezbollah that there is some degree of physical resemblance between some Lebanese and Mexican people. Mexican citizens of Lebanese heritage (like Mexico’s richest man, Carlos Slim) do not look out of place when they are on the street. STRATFOR sources say that Hezbollah members have married Mexican women in order to stay in Mexico, and some have reportedly even adopted Spanish names. A Hezbollah operative with a Spanish name who learns to speak Spanish well can be difficult for a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent to spot. American officials often lack the Spanish skills required to differentiate between Spanish speakers with Mexican accents and those with foreign accents.
Most of the Lebanese residing in Mexico are Maronite Christians who fled Lebanon and who are now well assimilated and prosperous in Mexico. Many of the Lebanese Muslims living in Mexico are relatively recent immigrants, and only about half of them are Shia, so the community in Mexico is smaller than it is in other places. Still, Hezbollah will use it to hide operatives. Sources tell STRATFOR that Hezbollah and the Iranians are involved in several small Islamic centers in Mexican cities such as Torreon, Chihuahua City and Monterrey. They also have an active presence in Shiite Islamic centers in border towns on both sides of the border and use these centers to coordinate cross-border smuggling of contraband and operatives...
“Hezbollah, Radical but Rational is republished with permission of STRATFOR.”
Read more: Hezbollah, Radical but Rational | STRATFOR
And this from Congressional Representative Myrick
Semper Fi, Gunny.