BY JAY SOLOMON
WASHINGTON—The Obama administration charged Hezbollah with operating like an international drug cartel and blacklisted two Lebanese money-exchange houses for allegedly moving tens of millions of dollars of drug profit through the U.S. financial system on behalf of the militant group.
The Treasury Department’s action Tuesday marked the latest salvo in a two-year U.S. government campaign against Hezbollah’s alleged drug-trafficking activities.
U.S. officials alleged that Hezbollah is using proceeds from this narcotics trade to fund international terrorist activities and to bolster the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in their fight against a widening political rebellion.
U.S. officials also said Hezbollah is increasingly reverting to illicit trade to offset diminished funding coming from Iran, the organization’s closest ally.
“Hezbollah is operating like a major drug cartel,” said Derek Maltz, a special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, who is overseeing the U.S. probe into Hezbollah. “These proceeds are funding violence against Americans.”