Monday, July 14, 2008
By J. Jesús Esquivel, Proceso
* According to a U.S. government intelligence report obtained by
Proceso, Hamas, Hezbollah and other radical Islamic groups have become
associates of the Mexican drug trafficking cartels: they are furnishing them
weapons and helping them to distribute drugs in Europe and the Middle East.
Ahead of time, DEA and Justice Department officials told this weekly that
“in coming days” they will conduct an operation in the border area shared by
Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay – where the radical Islamic groups have
settled – that will show their ties with the Mexican drug traffickers..
Washington – Islamic terrorist groups are selling arms to Mexican drug
trafficking cartels and collaborating with them in order to distribute
narcotics in Europe and the Middle East
This is one of the conclusions in the report titled ”
<http://www.usdoj. gov/ndic/ accomp/> Accomplishments, Fiscal Year 2007,” done
by the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), an agency of the U.S.
Department of Justice.
“Information from intelligence and investigations on narcoterrorism that we
have carried out identifies ties between Mexican narcotics traffickers,
[and] those of the Philippines and Colombia, with elements belonging to
foreign organizations designated as terrorists by the [U.S.] Department of
State,” the NDIC document indicates. Based on information from the Federal
Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the NDIC document emphasized: “The
results of 74 investigations of narcoterrorism that have been carried out by
the Special Operations Division of the DEA document that Islamic groups
present on the common border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay launder
money, sell arms and traffic drugs of the main Mexican criminal
The document indicates that the majority of the Islamic groups represented
in South America are tied to the Palestinians, and that they use their
earnings gained from relationship with narcotics traffickers from Mexico and
the rest of Latin America to finance their causes.
It identifies the groups Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestine Liberation Front,
the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine as the Arab associates of narcotrafficking cartels
“Groups like Hezbollah and Hamas,” it states, “have trafficked large amounts
of heroin and cocaine in Europe and the Middle East sold to them by
narcotics traffickers of Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.”
And it adds: “Furthermore, these terrorist groups have established
multimillion [dollar] contracts in order to sell weapons to Mexican and
Colombian narcotics traffickers, ” that are commercialized by “criminal
providers from Yemen, Kuwait, Syria, Argentina, Brazil and Bulgaria.”
A NDIC official told Proceso, regarding the contents of the intelligence
document: “In the last five or six years the drug cartels of Mexico have
been positioned as the most powerful criminal organizations of Latin
America. And since they now have an intercontinental reach in the transfer
of narcotics, the Middle Eastern terrorist groups have not wanted to lose
the opportunity to [make] money from them.”
“There is a great deal of talk about weapons used by the main cartels of
Mexico coming from the United States, but what is seldom mentioned is that
many of these, seized from narcotics traffickers by Mexican authorities, are
made in Europe or the Middle East and that they are the type used by Islamic
groups that support the Palestinian cause,” the NDIC official who asked for
anonymity as his comments referred to an intelligence document that has not
been declassified said.
That document notes: “A link of cooperation between Mexico’s organized crime
and southern Philippines area drug traffickers, and elements of the
terrorist organizations [Abu] Sayyaf and Jamayah Islamiyah, was also
The NDIC document does not identify the Mexican drug trafficking cartels
related with the radical Islamic groups directly or indirectly. However, a
Justice Department official consulted by this weekly said that it would deal
with the Gulf, Sinaloa, [and] Arellano Félix cartels, as well as The Zetas.
A DEA spokesman confirmed for Proceso that it deals with “three or four main
cartels” that operate in Mexican territory.
“Right now we cannot name them (the cartels), because in coming days we will
conduct an operation in South America (on the common border of Argentina,
Brazil and Paraguay) against Hezbollah due to its relationship with South
American and Mexican narcotics traffickers, ” said the DEA spokesman who also
asked for anonymity due to this being an ongoing investigation.
Words to the wise
Since the 1970s, U.S. agencies began to warn that Islamic groups established
in South America were dedicated to arms trafficking in the area. However,
in the past five years Mexican drug traffickers have become their main
“The most notable change is that now the Islamic groups located in South
America work as drug distributors in Europe and the Middle East for the
Mexican narcotics traffickers. Moreover, we have information that Mexico’s
cartels pay [for] arms that the terrorist groups sell with drugs (heroin,
methamphetamines and cocaine),” said the DEA spokesman.
On January 30, 2006, Michael Brown, chief of operations of the Federal
Antidrug Agency, told the Western Hemisphere Affairs subcommittee of the
U.S. House of Representatives that since the terrorist attacks on September
11, 2001, federal agencies [have] intensified their investigations into the
presence of Islamic terrorist groups in South America, and that as a result
they discovered that they had ties with the narcotrafficking organizations
in the region.
Brown explained that the Islamic groups earn large amounts from this, and he
gave examples: “An investment of US$6,000.00, to buy a kilogram of cocaine
from Mexican or Colombian drug traffickers, could yield a minimum profit of
US$30,000.00 from the sale of this drug in Spain (…), US$110,000.00 in
Hungary or Israel, and up to US$150,000.00 in Saudi Arabia.”
Other intelligence documents from the Department of Justice, copies of which
Proceso also obtained, show that Mexican narcotics traffickers made their
first contacts with Islamic radical groups, like Hezbollah, at the beginning
of this decade, this through the intermediation of Colombian, Brazilian
[and] Peruvian drug dealers, as well as members of the Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC).
“The tripartite border (of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay) is used as the
central point for the trafficking of cocaine that is taken to Europe and
other regions of the world. Groups like Hezbollah and Hamas are getting
huge amounts of money from the drugs sold to them mainly by the Mexican
narcotics dealers,” according to one of the documents from the Department of
Justice, dated May 9, 2006.
With respect to the weapons that the Islamic groups sell to the Mexican
narcotics traffickers, the NDIC intelligence report shows that these come
from the Middle East and Europe. They first arrive in South America.
Subsequently, the “criminal contacts of the Islamic groups” and “their
Lebanese agents” – who are found throughout the continent, but with “ample
concentration in Central America” – transport them to Mexico by “air, land
“They sell them all kinds of weapons, from the most elementary to equipment
to shoot down helicopters or destroy tanks (…) like those that Hezbollah or
Hamas use in order to attack the Israeli Army in the Occupied Territories of
Palestine or in Lebanon,” the document indicates.
“We also have evidence that Central American gangs, like the Mara
Salvatrucha of El Salvador, are also collaborating with the Islamic
terrorist groups in the transportation of weapons and munitions that have
Mexico as their final destination, ” stated the earlier mentioned Justice
Department official. One of the documents from that U.S. government agency
points out that the political atmosphere favoring leftists in South America,
that tends to be at odds with the foreign policy of President George W.
Bush, is exploited by groups like Hamas and Hezbollah that have found a kind
of refuge on the common border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, as well as
a center of transnational operations both to sell arms to Mexico and to
traffic in drugs to Europe and Asia. For their part, according to said
document, almost inadvertently Mexican drug traffickers [are] indirectly
financing terrorist acts that radical Islamic groups commit against Israel.
“The operation against Hezbollah that we will make public in coming days
will offer into evidence the clear relationship that exists between
narcotics trafficking and the Islamic groups, but above all it will show
Latin American governments the huge current criminal potential of organized
crime organizations of the region. Particularly, it will show Mexican
authorities that these (Islamic) organizations are a great threat to the
national security of their country, the United States, and even some South
American countries,” concluded the Justice Department official.
* The Proceso translation[ s], from English to Spanish of information in the
National Drug Intelligence Center report cited in the article (translated
above into, and back into, English), take poetic license. Some of the
quotes are used in altered context; others are disjointed excerpts put
together with added text in an order other than that presented in the
<http://www.usdoj. gov/ndic/ accomp/> NDIC report; and some quotes tie in
referenced Mexican criminal organizations whereas they do not appear in the
Edited translation; from <http://www.proceso. com.mx/> Proceso Magazine
#1652, June 29, 2008, Mexico City; MexiData.info translation