Alleged Hezballah money launderer arrested and extradited to US

Miami Herald:
A Paraguayan businessman accused of moving millions of dollars around the globe for drug traffickers and other criminals with suspected links to the terrorist group Hezbollah was extradited to Miami to face money-laundering charges on Friday.

Before his extradition late Thursday, Nader Mohamad Farhat operated one of the biggest currency exchange businesses in the Tri-Border Area of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. At his first appearance in Miami federal court, he was charged with two counts of conspiring to launder money from drug-trafficking proceeds and an unlicensed currency transmitter in the United States, as well as six related money-laundering offenses.

Farhat faces similar charges in New York federal court, but his Miami case must be resolved first before he is transferred there. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Miami next Thursday, when he also has a bond hearing. Prosecutors are seeking his detention, saying he is a risk of flight.
Farhat, who is of Lebanese descent, and his supporters had been fighting his extradition since his arrest on May 17, 2018, by Paraguayan authorities, who were assisted by Drug Enforcement Administration agents. The Lebanese Embassy in Asuncion, Paraguay’s capital, pressured the Paraguayan government to reject the U.S. request for his extradition, to no avail.

Farhat is perhaps the biggest U.S. target ever to be extradited from the Tri-Border Area, which federal authorities consider a giant washing machine for Latin American drug profits, knockoff consumer goods and terrorist fundraising.

Authorities say vast sums of illicit money move through currency exchange businesses in Paraguay — described recently as a “very notorious area” by prosecutor Michael Thakur in Miami federal court — to finance Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist group aligned with Iran. The Shiite militant group has gained political and financial influence far beyond its base in Lebanon, extending all the way to South America, New York and Miami.
There is more.

This looks like a blow to the Hezballah operation in this hemisphere.  Hezballah has acted as a proxy for Iran in attacks on the US and Israel.  Judging by the response of the Lebanese government it looks like Hezballah has basic control of the decision process there.  The Obama administration gave Hezballah a pass during a period of time it was trying to get the Iran nuclear deal done.


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