U.S. Arrests Hizbullah Members on Charges of Sending Illicit Money to Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

Members of the Hizbullah terrorist group were arrested on charges they used millions of dollars from the sale of contraband in the United States and Europe to enable the purchase of weapons in Syria, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said on Monday.

Those arrested include leaders of the network’s European cell, who were taken into custody last week, the DEA statement said. Among them was Mohamad Noureddine, who the DEA accuses of being a Lebanese money launderer for Hizbullah’s financial arm. The United States has labeled Noureddine a specially-designated global terrorist, it said.

Last week the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Noureddine and Hamdi Zaher El Dine, another alleged Hizbullah money launderer. Noureddine’s company Trade Point International was also placed under sanctions.

The DEA did not give the total number of those arrested or say where they were apprehended.

The investigation “once again highlights the dangerous global nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism,” the statement said.

Seven countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Belgium, were involved in the investigation that began in February 2015 and is ongoing.

In addition to providing funds for weapons, Hizbullah has also sent terrorists to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in the country’s almost five-year-old civil war.