A Hezbollah-like car bomb explodes in a border town as a congresswoman asks Homeland Security about links between the terrorist group and Mexican drug cartels. This is more than an immigration problem.
Car bombs are a terrorist specialty and not a drug cartel modus operandi. The heavily armed cartels are more into shootings and kidnappings. So the car bomb that exploded Thursday in Ciudad Juarez, near a federal police headquarters, killing four, was either a change in tactics for the cartels or a sign of teaming up with a terrorist group, one of which could be Iran-linked Hezbollah.
Officials called it a well-planned trap using what may have been the first time that traffickers have used a car bomb since the start of a military-led offensive against drug cartels. It also may be the first indication of Hezbollah’s growing influence south of the border.
Erick Stakelbeck of the Investigative Project, a counterterrorism research group, says Hezbollah has established a base in the Americas in what is known as the Tri-Border area, where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet. As he reports, “the area is home to roughly 20,000 Middle Eastern immigrants — mostly from Lebanon and Syria — and has long been a hotbed for terrorist fundraising, arms and drug trafficking, counterfeiting and money laundering.”
Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., recently sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security asking it to form a task force to investigate growing ties between Hezbollah and the drug cartels as well as growing evidence of a Hezbollah presence in Mexico.
“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 the region, often demanding protection money and ‘taxes’ from local inhabitants,” Myrick said in the letter.
Last year we reported that Colombian officials were investigating the Medellin-based Office of Envigado cartel as a Hezbollah front organization. This came after the arrest in Bogota of Chekri Mahmoud Harb, a suspected go-between for Hezbollah and the Taliban in Colombia.
According to an April 30 report compiled by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, “International terrorist groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah, have also reportedly raised funding for these terrorist activities through linkages formed with (drug-trafficking organizations) in South America, particularly those operating in the tri-border area of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.”