Posts Tagged ‘Paraguay’


More details emerge on Paraguay’s Hezbollah drug lord

March 5, 2013

In January we learned about Wassim el Abd Fadel, a Lebanese financier of Hezbollah.  A surprising amount of detail has been disseminated through the press about this case.  Now even more has been released.  Thanks to El Grillo for sending this over this update:

Drug lord in Paraguay linked to Hezbollah

It was mid-December last year when Interpol caught, in the transit area of Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, a 21-year-old Paraguayan woman who had swallowed over a kilogram of cocaine. Nelida Cardozo Taboada had disappeared from her hometown months before. She confessed to French police that she had been recruited as a “mule” by a network of drug smugglers. Her employer, a Paraguayan woman married to a Lebanese man, had convinced her to swallow the cocaine by promising her a job as a maid in Warsaw, Poland.

It took the police in Paraguay only a few days to reach the head of a Lebanese-led drug cartel in Ciudad del Este, a town located in the infamous tri-border area where the frontiers of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina meet. Wassim Abdel Fadel was arrested on December 21 together with his Paraguayan wife. But what police uncovered during the investigation led them further than they had expected.

According to information disclosed by Interpol and the Paraguayan police, Fadel, 30, was part of an international drug trafficking network controlled from Isla Margarita, Venezuela, a Caribbean holiday destination that is also an infamous hub for South American drug cartels. The leader of the cartel is Ghazi Atef Nassredine, also known as Abu Ali, a declared Hezbollah supporter who became a Venezuelan citizen 10 years ago and immediately thereafter became Venezuela’s diplomat to Beirut and Damascus. By arresting Fadel, Interpol and the Paraguayan police uncovered an international money-laundering and drug-smuggling network responsible for sending cocaine from South America to the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

Fadel was the leader of a network that would send laundered money, from drugs made in the tri-border area, to bank accounts in Istanbul and Damascus. According to a Paraguay Police Department press release sent to NOW, Fadel’s network regularly sent sums between $50,000 and $200,000 to these accounts. After investigating the owners, Paraguayan police came up with a list of Lebanese nationals known to be high-ranking Hezbollah members. Though the list was not disclosed to the media, the police said that the people on it were involved with Hezbollah’s financial operations. The same bank accounts also allegedly received money from different continents.

Although young, Fadel had gained control of an entire Hezbollah-backed real estate and drug market in Ciudad del Este after the network’s leaders – Lebanese-Americans Nemr Ali Zoayter, Amr Zoher, and Moussa Ali Hamdan – were arrested in Paraguay and extradited to the US. Zoayter and Zoher were caught in Ciudad del Este in 2008, while Hamdan was arrested in June 2010 in the same town.

According to statements released by the Paraguayan police, Fadel had been on the run for over three years. He was not only part of the drug cartel, but also the owner of a car-parts company, Fadel Automotores, located in Ciudad del Este. In 2008, several of his customers reported him to the police because he had defrauded them.

Fadel was born in Toulin, a village in the Lebanese district of Marjayoun. It was obvious to the villagers that he had made a fortune in Paraguay, as he had built a huge mansion in his hometown. However, he is not the only local who made his fortune in South America or West Africa; indeed, villages in the South and Beqaa Valley are studded with villas built by expatriates. But how the emigrants made their millions is often a mystery…


Police: Lebanese expat transferred $50K-$200K per deposit to fund terrorist training

January 29, 2013

Hezbollah banks in Syria and Turkey received proceeds from Wassim el Abd Fadel’s CD and DVD pirating scheme along with cocaine trafficking profits according to Interpol and Paraguayan police.

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Hezbo financier blames arrest on Islamophobia

March 1, 2011

Moussa Ali Hamdan, a Muslim and “dual U.S.-Lebanese national,” arrived in Paraguay last year.  He bought what he thought were stolen cell phones, PlayStation 2s, and used cars.  He thought exporting them would help fund Hezbollah.  Instead it ended up getting him arrested and extradited back to the U.S. for trial.  But the extradition is only because U.S. law enforcement is just a bunch of anti-Islamic religious bigots, according to Hamdan.  From the Associated Press on Feb. 25 (h/t Rantburg):

Paraguay extradited three Lebanese men to the United States on Thursday — two on drug trafficking charges and another who faces trial in Philadelphia for allegedly selling stolen cell phones and used cars to raise funds for Hizbullah.

Paraguayan anti-drug trafficking agent Maria Mercedes Castineira told The Associated Press that the three men were put on a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration plane after being held for months in Paraguayan jails.

Nemir Ali Zhayter and Amer Zoher El Hossni were captured Aug. 6, 2008, in Ciudad del Este on Paraguay’s “Triple Frontier” with Brazil and Argentina. Both were allegedly involved in trafficking cocaine to the U.S., Castineira said.

Moussa Ali Hamdan was arrested last June 16 in the same Paraguayan city shortly after arriving from New York. Prosecutors in Philadelphia said Hamdan, a dual U.S.-Lebanese national, bought what he thought where stolen goods from a U.S. government informant.

Hamdan allegedly exported more than 1,700 cell phones, 400 Sony PlayStation 2 systems and three used cars after the informant told him the money as well as counterfeit currency would go to finance Hizbullah.

He faces 25 years if convicted of 31 charges filed in November 2009 in Philadelphia. Hamdan said after his arrest that he’s been falsely accused, and that if he weren’t Muslim he would not have been charged.


The New World dreams for Old World caliphates

June 17, 2010

Ohio!  Paraguay!  All the Americas–unite for Hezbollah!  From Rantburg today:

[Al Arabiya] Interpol said Tuesday it has arrested a Lebanese national suspected of funneling money to the Shiite armed group Hezbollah in Paraguay in the tri-border area with Argentina and Brazil.

Moussa Hamdan, 38, was arrested in Ciudad del Este, part of the Triple Frontier, a region the United States has repeatedly cited as being exploited by armed groups that “finance terrorist activities.”

Local media, citing local security officials, said Hamdan was financing Hezbollah, which fought a devastating 2006 war with Israel and is blacklisted as a terror group by Washington.

The Interpol chief in Paraguay, Jose Chena, said justice officials would decide within about six weeks whether to extradite Hamdan to the United States, where an arrest warrant has been issued against him.

A cosmopolitan area and significant tourist spot, the Triple Frontier is also considered a major spot for smuggling and other organized crime. Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina deny their shared region is a hotbed for terror financing.

The three countries have refused to cooperate in the production of Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s latest project in a film tentatively titled “Triple Frontier” over concerns the movie could damage their countries’ reputation with tourists.

A significant Arab population lives in the region, with a big presence in Ciudad del Este.