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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Former DEA Chief: Hezbollah Eyeing Southwest Border, ‘Hell to Pay in the Not Too Distant Future’

Michael Braun, former Assistant Administrator and Chief of Operations, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spoke to the Center for Security Policy's National Security Group on Capitol Hill about developments on the Mexican border with an eye towards the 2012 elections. He also discussed the nexus between Latin American drug cartels and Middle Eastern terrorists.


Former DEA Chief: Hezbollah Eyeing Southwest Border, ‘Hell to Pay in the Not Too Distant Future’

( – 
The Iranian-supported Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah has spread its influence all the way to the U.S. border with Mexico, a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere heard on Thursday.
Michael Braun, a former chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Agency, said Hezbollah had developed relationships with the powerful Mexican drug cartels to “move their agenda forward.” He cited a plot, recently uncovered by the DEA, involving an Iranian operative in Mexico allegedly planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C.
“Hezbollah are absolute masters at forming close relationships with existing organized crime groups around the world that helps them facilitate what they need to do to move their agendas forward,” Braun told following the hearing. “And if anyone thinks for a moment that they don’t have their eye on the southwest border and all of our country, then they couldn’t be more wrong.”
In his prepared remarks Braun, who also served as interim director of the Department of Justice’s Drug Intelligence Fusion Center, said Hezbollah and other terrorist groups understand that the Mexican cartels are already operating successfully inside the United States.
“If anyone thinks for one moment that these terrorist organizations do not understand that the Mexican drug trafficking cartels now dominate drug trafficking in our country – reportedly in more than 250 cities – than they are very stupid or very naive,” he said.
“And these groups most assuredly recognize the strategic value of exploiting that activity, and all that has been built to support it, for moving their vision forward in this part of the world.”
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the committee, cited Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force and its connections to the Zeta drug cartel in the foiled assassination attempt on U.S. soil.
She asked Braun whether he believed Iran had “strategic interests” in Central America and the southwest border.
Braun said Quds Force and Hezbollah work “very, very hard” to develop relationships with criminal groups that already have in place systems for illegal activities, including drug and human trafficking, money laundering and forged document operations.
“And by developing those relations it provides them with the ability to operate far from home in our neighborhood and – as I said earlier – on our doorstep,” he replied.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), committee member and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s subcommittee of oversight and investigations, asked about Hezbollah’s relationship to criminal organizations in the Western Hemisphere and what it means for U.S. security.
Braun warned that those relationships allow “these groups to operate freely in our neighborhood” and said the U.S. would regret it if the threats were not taken seriously.
“I don’t want to sound too crude, but I think there’s going to be hell to pay in the not too distant future,” he said.
For the most part the tone of the hearing was bipartisan in nature, with Democrats on the committee agreeing that Iran is trying to exert influence in the Western Hemisphere.
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent trip to Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua, is proof that Iran is “up to no good.”
Read more of the story here

Related Links:
Iran’s Ties in Latin American Region Pose Threat to U.S. Security, Ros-Lehtinen Says at Hearing
The Investigative Project On Terrorism

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