The Times took a lengthy look at the Treasury Department’s investigation of the Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) and the organizational structure that moves illegal drugs from South America to Europe and the Middle East via West Africa and launders hundreds of millions of dollars monthly through accounts held at LCB, as well as through trade-based money laundering involving consumer goods throughout the world, including through used car dealerships in the U.S.
The Times highlighted the December 13 indictment in U.S. court of Ayman Joumaa (a.k.a. “Junior”), who along with his partners allegedly sold 85 tons of cocaine to the Zetas between 2005 and 2007, which was later trafficked into the U.S., and laundered some $850 million in their profits for Hezbollah through LCB. Joumaa was previously named by the Treasury Department in January 2011 as a drug kingpin believed to have laundered as much as $200 million monthly, with much of the illicit proceeds going to Hezbollah. He currently remains at large.
Noteworthy was a comment by Lebanon’s drug enforcement chief, Colonel Adel Mashmoushi, who stated that one path used by Hezbollah’s drug trafficking friends into Lebanon was “aboard a weekly Iranian-operated flight from Venezuela to Damascus and then over the border [from Syria].” The air bridge between Caracas and Tehran has long been a significant security concern.
The indictment of Joumaa and further revelations regarding the important role of LCB come in the wake of last week’s Univision investigation of the role of Iran, including the growth of Hezbollah, in the Americas and the threat of Iranian cyber-attacks against the United States. Members of both houses of Congress have demanded or promised further probes into the allegations.
The nexus between murderous criminal mayhem in Mexico, anti-American regimes like that of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Middle Eastern terror, and drug users in the U.S. is worrisome, especially for the Obama Administration. Since taking office, President Obama has worked hard to insulate the White House and his Presidency from direct involvement in the “war on drugs.”
Nonetheless, growing evidence of links between terrorists, criminal organizations, rogue leaders like Chavez and consumption in the U.S. means the U.S. and its national security can no longer afford such hands-off leadership from the Obama White House.