"The terrorist group Lebanese Hezbollah … has supporters and sympathizers in Lebanese diaspora communities in Latin America, some of whom are involved in lucrative illicit activities like money laundering and trafficking in counterfeit goods and drugs," the deputy commander of the US Southern Command told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Tovo alleged that Hezbollah, a Shia political party and militant group, has long viewed Central America as a potential attack venue against Israeli or other Western targets.
Latin American criminal networks flourish in an environment of corruption and lax law enforcement in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Panama and Paraguay, according to the Lieutenant General. Some of the revenues they generate are sent to Hezbollah.
The US State Department added Hezbollah to the list of designated foreign terrorist organizations in 1997. However, the Shia group was left out of the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities report, released earlier this year.
Moreover, Hezbollah was mentioned in the report in reference to the group’s efforts in fighting off Islamic State. Hezbollah has been helping the Syrian government fight Islamic State and radical Sunni militants, including al-Nusra Front, a Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda.