Signs are growing that the terror group Hezbollah has expanded its long-established influence with South and Central American drug cartels into a working presence in Mexico.
Rep. Sue Myrick (R.-N.C.) is asking the Department of Homeland Security to form a task force to investigate ties between the Islamic terror group Hezbollah, the drug cartels in Central and South America and new indications of a Hezbollah presence in Mexico.
Documents obtained exclusively by Human Events reveal a well-established smuggling route into the U.S. Over 180,000 illegal aliens from countries Other than Mexico (OTM) were apprehended from 2007 through mid-March 2010.
Nearly 150,000 of those apprehended were from South and Central American countries that the State Department says are being used as corridors for smuggling people from the Middle East, Southwest Asia and East Africa.
State Department documents examined by Human Events raise concerns that Hezbollah has already used these long-established narco-terror relationships to establish terror cells in the United States.
From the State Department Country Reports on Terrorism 2008:
“Over the past five years, however, smuggling rings have been detected moving people from East Africa, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia to Honduras or through its territory. In 2008, there was an increase in the number of boats arriving on the North coast, ferrying people from all over the world seeking to enter the United States illegally via Guatemala and Mexico. Nationals of countries without Honduran visa requirements, especially Ecuador and Colombia, were involved in schemes to transit Honduras, often with the United States and Europe as their final destination. Foreign nationals have successfully obtained valid Honduran identity cards and passports under their own or false identities.”
Over the past three years, nearly 57,000 people have been apprehended in this country illegally with Honduran identification. Over 49,000 were from Guatemala and over 38,000 from El Salvador, home of the MS-13 narco-terror gangs.
Myrick has requested that a task force study new indications that Hezbollah has expanded their presence into Mexico. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Myrick gives several examples of Hezbollah’s influence on the drug cartels.
“We have seen their cooperation in countries across South America, particularly the tri-border area of South America (bounded by Puerto Iguazu, Argentina; Ciudad del Este, Paraguay; and Foz do Iguanzo, Brazil). Hezbollah operates almost like a Mafia family in this region, often demanding protection money and ‘taxes’ from local inhabitants,” Myrick states in the letter.
Of particular concern was evidence of Hezbollah influence in Mexico, which is the gateway into the United States for drug cartels.
Myrick’s letter warns that tattoos have been found on drug gangs in U.S. prisons showing the influence of Iranian-directed Hezbollah terrorists.
“If you go down to the San Diego area in the prisons that’s where you’ll see prison inmates with Farsi tattoos,” Myrick told Human Events in a recent interview. “It’s not a secret, it just something that people have chosen to ignore.”
Myrick also raised concerns over Hezbollah training Mexican cartels in bomb making and sophisticated tunneling techniques that they’ve used for terrorist attacks against Israel.
“I think that there is a bigger picture here that everyone is ignoring,” Myrick said. “I’ve asked Homeland Security for a task force. They said they would give me an intelligence briefing, which would be to shut me up so I can’t say anything. I’m not going to do that. I want some answers to my questions on the task force first.”
T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, recently told Human Events the Mexican cartels are building sophisticated tunnels into the United States.
“When you look at some of the pretty sophisticated tunnels that they’ve dug under the border where two adult males can walk side-by-side without bending over you know that they’ve built them not just for moving drugs through there but [to move] anything through there,” Bonner said.
When asked if the Mexican cartels would work with terrorist groups, Bonner said it’s all about the money.
“They don’t have a conscience. They really don’t care what they’re smuggling across the border—it could be a weapon of mass destruction—as long as the price is right they’ll move it,” Bonner said. “They don’t care whether the person is from a terrorist sponsoring country or whether that person is from Mexico, if the person pays the fee they’re getting across. The higher the fee you pay, the more likely it is that you’re going to get across.”
Bonner said that this year there is a higher percentage of border apprehensions for drug arrests and OTMs.
“It’s not that the OTMs and the drugs coming across have necessarily increased but we have seen our effectiveness increase because we have fewer people coming across,” Bonner said.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R.-Mich.), member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, served for 12 years as an FBI Special Agent. He spoke recently with HUMAN EVENTS about the smuggling routes into this country from these South American countries.
“Remember there’s a difference in a criminal enterprise that seeks to come here that wants to be surreptitious,” Rogers warned. “They’re not showing up to get a job at a construction site. They’re showing up here to do a whole other set of activities that they also don’t want law enforcement to know about, so that makes that group of individuals more difficult to catch and they are much more dangerous.”
Rogers says the lines are being blurred between the terrorist groups and the drug cartels.
“What we see that happening in Pakistan, and we see it happening in Northern Africa and we see it happening in the Arabian Peninsula that these groups will work together,” Rogers said. “I think the five crime families in New York are a great example. If they can find a way to work together to benefit both of them between two families or three families or four families or five families they will do it. It doesn’t mean they like each other, it doesn’t mean they won’t shoot each other, but if they can find something that benefits them they’ll do it. These groups are no different.”
According to an April 30 report compiled by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, “International terrorist groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah, have also reportedly raised funding for their terrorist activities through linkages formed with [drug trafficking organizations] in South America, particularly those operating in the tri-border area (TBA) of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.”
“We have clearly seen that the line between the narco-terrorist and funding for terrorist operations is getting awful blurred,” Rogers said. “I think that the sooner we come to the realization that all of these groups will use each other to further their aims the better off we are.”