Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Terrorism Ties to LA Drug Bust

From the "unsurprising if true" file comes this report from the New York Daily News that a small-time drug gang busted in Los Angeles is suspected of raising funds for Hezbollah:

A seemingly small-time drug ring busted this week in Los Angeles was actually targeted for funding the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, the Daily News has learned.

Prosecutors left out the terror tie when they announced Tuesday that federal agents and local cops had arrested a dozen people for allegedly peddling cocaine and counterfeit clothing in Bell, Calif.

But several sources familiar with the investigation said the predominantly Arab-American gang was believed to have smuggled its crime cash to the Iranian-backed terror group.

"This was a classic case of terrorism financing, and it was pretty sophisticated how they did it," a source close to Operation Bell Bottoms told The News.

The defendants once crammed $123,000 in money orders into a stuffed animal flown to Lebanon, an indictment alleged.
While I don't have any particulars on this case, it's no secret that terror groups use illegal activities such as counterfeiting, drug sales, and identity theft as a quick way to earn cash. And Hezbollah is perhaps the best organized and funded terrorist group in the world. They also have connections in North America.

But these illegal activities are a significant vulnerability for them - one that local law enforcement is ideally positioned to detect and exploit.

Note: The LA Times also covered the story, providing more information on the initial indictments, which were not terrorism-related.

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