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January 17, 2018Washington, DC, United StatesOperational

Justice Department appoints HSI to new Hezbollah investigation team

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday, Jan. 11, the participation of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team, a new group of prosecutors and investigators tasked with investigating individuals and networks providing support to Hezbollah.

Led by Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan, HSI will partner with investigators from the DEA, including its Special Operations Division, FBI, Assistant United States Attorneys and attorneys from the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and National Security Division to support the new team’s efforts to identify and combat networks providing support to Hezbollah, pursue prosecution in appropriate cases and assessing the evidence in existing investigations, including cases stemming from Project Cassandra, a law enforcement initiative targeting Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and related operations.

“HSI is committed to working with its law enforcement partners to combat criminal organizations providing financial support to Hezbollah,” said HSI Acting Executive Associate Director Derek Benner. “Our agents possess the skill and knowledge to disrupt and dismantle these efforts through special enforcement operations and conducting effective money laundering and drug smuggling investigations.”

HSI, through its participation at Special Operations Division, has a dedicated, full-time special agent program manager and intelligence research specialist assigned to the current Counter-Narcoterrorism Operations Center, a key piece to the newly-formed team. The center currently supports field investigations conducted by numerous law enforcement agencies into drug trafficking organizations that cross over to terrorist organizations or terrorism-related issues. Specifically, HSI, in cooperation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other DHS entities, leverage its unique authorities and assets to identify and disrupt criminal and terrorism-related actors, including those associated with Hezbollah, as they attempt to move funds, cargo and persons across U.S. borders and throughout the world.

Presently, HSI personnel embedded in the operations center support investigations into significant Hezbollah financiers, who utilize trade-based money laundering methods to fund Hezbollah operations. HSI special agents and analysts also work with the partner agencies to support and advance investigations led by other agencies to ensure the full capabilities of DHS are leveraged for the prosecution and disruption of foreign terrorist organizations and violent international drug trafficking organizations.