Department of Justice Designates Hezbollah, Mexican Drug Cartels as Transnational Organized Crime Threats

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Posted: Oct 16, 2018 1:35 PM
Department of Justice Designates Hezbollah, Mexican Drug Cartels as Transnational Organized Crime Threats

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday the Department of Justice has officially designated a series of gangs, cartels and one terrorist group as transnational organized crime threats to the United States. 

“The day I was sworn in as Attorney General, President Trump sent me an executive order to dismantle transnational criminal organizations—the gangs and cartels who flood our streets with drugs and violence,” Sessions said.  “We embrace that order and we carry it out every single day.  Today, to increase our effectiveness, I am putting in place new leadership to drive our transnational organized crime efforts and forming a Transnational Organized Crime Task Force of experienced prosecutors that will coordinate and optimize the Department’s efforts to take each of these groups off of our streets for good.”

The newly designated organizations include MS-13, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG), Sinaloa Cartel, Clan del Golfo and Lebanese Hezbollah. Sessions has assigned a series of teams within DOJ to take on prosecutions.

Unlike MS-13 and the drug cartels named, Hezbollah is already designated as an international terrorist organization and works with cartels to move money, drugs and weapons. This movement occurs through Mexico, South and Central America.

Under the Obama administration, prosecutions of Hezbollah members were halted in order to pursue a nuclear agreement with Iran. Hezbollah is funded by Iran and serves as a proxy group in Lebanon and around the world. 

POLITICO ran a lengthy investigative piece on the issue last year:

In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.“The day I was sworn in as Attorney General, President Trump sent me an executive order to dismantle transnational criminal organizations—the gangs and cartels who flood our streets with drugs and violence,” Attorney General Sessions said.  “We embrace that order and we carry it out every single day.  Today, to increase our effectiveness, I am putting in place new leadership to drive our transnational organized crime efforts and forming a Transnational Organized Crime Task Force of experienced prosecutors that will coordinate and optimize the Department’s efforts to take each of these groups off of our streets for good.”

The connection between Hezbollah, drug cartels and gangs operating in American communities has long been a concern of Congress.