Sessions announces creation of unit to go after Hezbollah

BY TRACY MATHESON / JANUARY 12, 2018 /

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday the creation of the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team.

The move follows the Wednesday testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee from Derek Maltz, the retired head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s special-operations division, who contended that the Obama administration “lost a gold opportunity to crush Hezbollah” due in part to political motivations to secure a nuclear deal with Iran.

The HFNT, a group of international prosecutors experienced in investigating criminal offenses related to narcotics trafficking, terrorism, organized crime, and money laundering, will work to dissolve networks which provide support to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

More from the Department of Justice’s Thursday news release:

HFNT prosecutors and investigators are tasked with investigating individuals and networks providing support to Hezbollah, and pursuing prosecutions in any appropriate cases. The HFNT will begin by assessing the evidence in existing investigations, including cases stemming from Project Cassandra, a law enforcement initiative targeting Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and related operations.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division will supervise the HFNT, and will convene a coordination meeting focused on identifying and combating such support to Hezbollah. The HFNT will coordinate with, among others, investigators from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), including the DEA’s Special Operations Division; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Homeland Security Investigations; Assistant United States Attorneys; and attorneys from the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and National Security Division.

“The Justice Department will leave no stone unturned in order to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organizations and to stem the tide of the devastating drug crisis,” said Attorney General Sessions. “In an effort to protect Americans from both threats, the Justice Department will assemble leading investigators and prosecutors to ensure that all Project Cassandra investigations as well as other related investigations, whether past or present, are given the needed resources and attention to come to their proper resolution. The team will initiate prosecutions that will restrict the flow of money to foreign terrorist organizations as well as disrupt violent international drug trafficking operations.”

“The investigation and prosecution of terrorist organizations that contribute to the growing drug crisis are a priority for this administration,” said Acting Assistant General Cronan. “At the Attorney General’s direction, the HFNT will use all appropriate tools to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who provide financial support to Hezbollah in an effort to eradicate the illicit networks that fuel terrorism and the drug crisis.”

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