Powerful cartels have made a fortune in the drug trade along the U.S.-Mexico border. Now, rogue dictators and Islamic terrorist groups are following their example.
Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez differ in many ways, but they share a common enemy — the United States. And according to U.S. officials, drugs help connect and fund the dangerous networks.
West Africa is the center of their interests in the multi-billion dollar business. The region has become a transit point for cocaine bound for Europe.
Al Qaeda and Hezbollah often provide security for the drugs after they arrive in Africa. But the illegal cargo originates in the Western Hemisphere.
Former State Department official Roger Noriega told CBN News that Venezuela President Hugo Chavez is well aware that drug shipments are flowing from his territory. Noriega was the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States under former President George W. Bush.
“Virtually every flight that goes to West Africa today that is bearing cocaine or other drugs, is coming from Venezuela,” he said.
“We have explicit evidence, and our government has sanctioned Venezuelan officials who have been involved in drug trafficking,” Noriega continued. “So we know that the regime is complicit for years, and that Chavez has to have knowledge and approve of this kind of trafficking.”
“This is a guy who claims to know every time a U.S. Coast Guard cutter comes close to his country or flies close to his territory,” he added. “How can he claim to not be aware of 737s full of cocaine loading up in western Venezuela? He has to know about this kind of trafficking because it is so substantial.”
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Related: Venezuela: Political Aspects.
South America: the growing threat of terrorism.
Drug trafficking: More on “Air Al-Qaeda”.
More on the links between South American drug traffickers and AQIM.
US indictment links Hezbullah with Mexican drug cartels.
Walid Phares on Jihadist-Drug Cartels’ links.
Narco-terrorism: FARC and Al-Qaeda in South America.