A report published Wednesday by the Atlantic Council revealed links between the socialist regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the Shiite jihadist organization Hezbollah, making Venezuela “the central hub for the convergence of transnational organized crime and international terrorism in the Western Hemisphere.”
Through networks that include overtly legal business activity, Maduro, Hezbollah, Mexican drug cartels, and the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) all help each other line their pockets and expand their influence on a global scale, the report states.
Maduro, like his predecessor Hugo Chávez, is an open supporter of the Iranian regime. Hezbollah has long had a presence in South America, cultivating relationships with groups like FARC by aiding with shipping illicit material, diplomacy, and money laundering.
“The Iran and Hezbollah nexus in Venezuela, first under Chávez and now with Maduro, has been underestimated by the international community for far too long,” the report concluded. “The findings in this report demonstrate that these connections exist and are mutually beneficial, allowing Hezbollah a safe space to conduct its global crime-terror operations and providing the Maduro regime with increased illicit support from the Middle East.”