Colombia: Maicao, Hezbollah money-laundering center
In the Colombia-Venezuela border town of Maicao, which is also near the Caribbean and has a free-trade zone and the third-largest mosque in the Americas, Hezbollah financing evolves beyond Colombia’s Muslim communities
Today, Hezbollah is the most powerful political movement in Lebanon — and its influence stretches all the way to Maicao. Each year, millions of dollars of drug money are laundered in Maicao, where some community members openly proclaim their support for Hezbollah. Recent U.S. Treasury Department actions have slowed the flow of cash to terrorist groups, but financiers have fled and new networks have reconstituted that are harder to identify.
This mirrors, as Spain’s ABC has reported, chavismo’s alliance with the FARC Colombian guerrilla becoming an essential factor of the illegal trade,
The way it works is a money launderer today may work for 5-10 different drug trafficking groups. Those groups in turn pay taxes or fees to terrorist groups to operate in their territories, proliferating terrorism and violence in Colombia and the Middle East. Likewise, sympathizing launderers may make sizable voluntary donations to Hezbollah.
The article states,
The launderers may not even realize they are ultimately funding terrorism organizations.
And yet, “the conversation switches to Arabic when it involves transferring drug money to terrorist groups abroad.”
It makes perfect sense for Maicao to be a location for this:
- a commercial center because of its free-trade zone,
- large Muslim population where Hezbollah operatives may go unnoticed
- geographic location near both the Caribbean and Venezuela, the departing point for much of the drugs.
I wonder how this fits in with the FARC negotiations in Havana, considering the links to Colombia’s FARC, El Salvador’s FMNL, and their connection to Hezbollah.