Iranian Drug Plot Linked to Hezbollah
An Iranian man is charged with smuggling heroin into the US to fund the Lebanese militant group.
An Iranian man faces life in prison after being convicted by a New York federal court for attempting to transport over 250 pounds of heroin into the US last July. Prosecutors said Siavosh Henareh's drug plot was a scheme to finance Hezbollah—a Lebanese militant organization designated as a terrorist group by the US and Israel. Henareh's partners, Cetin Asku and Bachar Wehbe, were charged in the heroin conspiracy as well; they were also accused of buying weapons for Hezbollah. Prosecutors said Henareh had more than 30 meetings with undercover Drug Enforcement Agency sources as well as potential heroin suppliers in foreign countries including Greece, Romania, and Turkey since June 2010. In April 2011, he allegedly gave the sources a one-kilogram sample of heroin in Bucharest in advance of a 189 kilogram delivery, worth three million euros ($3,900,000 USD), and helped his co-conspirators count the money after the delivery. Asku and Wehbe pled guilty and face 25 to life in prison, but Henareh maintains his innocence and said he will appeal the conviction. “Mr. Henareh was never charged, extradited or prosecuted on any terrorism or weapons-related charges,” said William Ray, his court-appointed attorney. “This was a single count prosecution of conspiracy to import heroin in the United States. So unlike his two co-defendants, he never faced terrorism or weapons charges.” Hezbollah has also been accused of allying with the Zetas cartel against the US.