Three men with purported ties to Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah have been arrested for allegedly laundering cocaine money in Miami, Florida, on behalf of Colombian drug cartels.
Mohammad Ahmad Ammar, Hassan Mohsen Mansour, and Ghassan Diab are suspected to have illegally moved over $500,000 through Miami banks in a series of complicated financial transactions.
Ammar, 31, is believed to be the leader of the group. He was living in Colombia before he was booked into Miami-Dade jail last week on state felony money laundering charges. His two associates also face similar charges in South Florida.
Mansour, who reportedly has dual Canadian and Lebanese citizenship, is currently in police custody in France. It is unclear if he will be moved to Florida for the case. The third suspect, Diab, is allegedly related to a high-ranking member of Hezbollah with access to several international bank accounts. He is still at large and is believed to be in Lebanon or Nigeria.
The group was busted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the South Florida Money-Laundering Strike Force as part of the DEA’s “Operation Cassandra,” a mission to stem the flow of funds obtained by illegal means to terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
Operation Cassandra began earlier this year after the U.S. Department of Treasury announced sanctions against Hezbollah’s financiers by designating affiliated money launders who are believed to take large quantities of cocaine from Latin America to markets in Europe.
The total funds generated through laundering drug money is not known, but according to DEA Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Riley the proceeds are believed to provide a substantial “revenue and weapons stream for an international terrorist organization responsible for devastating terror attacks around the world.”
In a statement to news sources, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said, “Drug dealers, potential terrorists and money launderers should all get the message that Miami-Dade County is not the place to do your dirty business.”