WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- Countering the narcotics trafficking supported by Hezbollah should remain a top law-enforcement priority despite recent political overtures, an analyst said.
Hezbollah, regardless of its advances in the political arena, retains a history of criminal activity that includes narcotics trafficking to support its cause. Matthew Levitt with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said this should keep Hezbollah as a top concern for law enforcement and national officials worldwide.
"The nexus between drug trafficking and terrorist activities -- specifically those of Hezbollah -- represent an immediate law-enforcement challenge for the United States and its European allies," he wrote.
Levitt pointed to a 2008 investigation by U.S. and Colombian officials that uncovered a cocaine-smuggling ring that channeled funds from the Colombian drug cartel to members of the Lebanese Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department in 2006 listed Sobhi Fayad, a Hezbollah official, as a Specially Designated Terrorist due to connections to the drug trade and the counterfeiting of U.S. dollars.
London and European officials have softened their stance on the political wing of Hezbollah, but Levitt noted that countering drug trafficking and militant activity may complicate matters as officials court Hezbollah on the political front while arresting some of its members on the other.