Indicting Hezbollah in Mexico

By Janice Kephart on February 23, 2011

A few months, the United States issued an extraterritorial indictment against Jamal Yousef, a senior agent of Hezbollah, an Iranian-sponsored and U.S.-designated terrorist organization. The agent was conducting a business deal to provide thousands of new U.S. arms stolen from American forces in Iraq that had been shipped and stored in Mexico and were to be sold to the Colombian FARC (another designated terrorist organization) in exchange for drugs that were to be couriered into the U.S. by Mexican cartels. The stolen U.S. arms consisted of automatic rifles, M-60 machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, hand grenades, anti-tank munitions, and C-4 explosives.

The case, U.S. v. Yousef, filed in New York in August 2010, provokes numerous questions about our security, the proximity of our enemies, and the networks being established nearby linking back to the Middle East. These questions go beyond the horrendous cartel violence in Mexico we are witnessing on both sides of our border, bringing to light the national security aspect of drug- and gun-running, the volatility of our southwest border, and the playground northern Mexico has become for extreme lawlessness and anti-American activity.

The indictment provides proof of stolen arms from U.S. forces in Iraq, which relates the following conversation between a confidential source from the Drug Enforcement Administration and an unnamed co-conspirator with the arms-for-drugs deal highlighted below:

Based on representations by CS-1 (DEA agent) during the course of the negotiations, Yousef and his co-conspirators believed that the cocaine would be supplied by the FARC and the weapons involved in the transaction would be used by the FARC. CC-1 (co-conspirator) claimed that the weapons were stolen from Iraq and being stored in Mexico at the home of Yousef's relative, who, according to Yousef, is a member of Hezbollah. With regard to the source of the weapons, CC-1 stated specifically:

CC-1: Look, what we have comes from . .. Most of them — as far as the M-16s, the AR-15s, the M-60s, the, uh, hand grenades, explosives, uh, the bullet-proof vests, uh, those come from Iraq. They're totally new and it's the latest generation, what the "gringos" are using in Iraq. How did we obtain them? From the gringos themselves[.]

CS-1: You took . . . you took the question from my mouth, because it's . . . I'll repeat once again. It's . . . it's . . . not normal. I'm saying to him, "Where am I going to get five thousand rifles in Central America?"

CC-1: So, I want to show you with the newspaper, look, and . . . and . . . with the video uh . . . what . . . what . . . what we have. How did that get there? I'll explain that as far as the American weapons are concerned, those were brought over from Iraq. They were stolen and purchased in Iraq.

CC-1 and CS-1 continued to negotiate the transaction over the telephone, by e-mail, and in person over the next month. CS-1 often reiterated his affiliation with the FARC and in one instance detailed his organization's role in the drug trade, explaining that the FARC does not "have the infrastructure" to set itself "up on the highways and avenues of the United States" and so it "depend[s]" on "several organizations in Mexico" to deliver the product. (Brown Decl., Ex. D, at 83-85.)

I discussed this case, and the tragic death of a murdered ICE agent in Mexico over a week ago, at length with Crane Durham of on February 17, 2011.

Topics: Mexico