Hezbollah-linked businessman jailed in Paris drug trial

File photo showing Hezbollah rally in Lebanon. (Reuters)
Updated 29 November 2018
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Hezbollah-linked businessman jailed in Paris drug trial

  • Mohamad Noureddine was convicted of laundering drug money and criminal conspiracy
  • He was fined €500,000

PARIS: A shadowy businessman from the Lebanese diaspora was sentenced in Paris on Wednesday to seven years in prison for being a lead member of a crime ring that laundered Colombian drug money through luxury jewelry.
Mohamad Noureddine, a 44-year-old businessman with interests in real estate and jewelry, was convicted of laundering drug money and criminal conspiracy and fined €500,000 ($568,000).
He was arrested in France in January 2016 during police raids that also took place in Italy, Belgium and Germany, after an alert from the US Drug Enforcement Agency.
US officials, who have imposed sanctions on Noureddine over his supposed links to Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, suspect the network of operating between South America, Europe and the Middle East since 2012.
They identified France, where several of the defendants reside, as being at the center of the syndicate’s operations in Europe.
The proceeds of cocaine sales were allegedly collected in Europe, then channelled to Lebanon before being transferred to Colombian traffickers.
The funds were moved using a centuries-old system of payment dating from the spice trade called “hawala,” passing through a tested network requiring ironclad trust.
After the drugs were sold, the network used hawala operatives to gather the proceeds.
The collected cash was then used to buy luxury jewelry, watches and cars which were resold in Lebanon or West Africa.
Another key figure in the case, a man named Abbas Nasser, was sentenced to ten years in prison in absentia. He is subject to an arrest warrant.
Twelve other defendants involved in the criminal network received various sentences, up to nine years in jail.


Gunmen kill 13 at Veracruz bar in one of worst Mexican slayings this year

Updated 20 April 2019
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Gunmen kill 13 at Veracruz bar in one of worst Mexican slayings this year

  • The unidentified assailants opened fire on Friday night after coming to look for a man at the bar
  • Seven men, five women and a child died in the shooting

MEXICO CITY: Gunmen shot dead 13 people at a bar in the city of Minatitlan in the Mexican Gulf coast state of Veracruz, authorities said on Friday, in one of the worst slayings to hit Mexico since President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office.
The unidentified assailants opened fire on Friday night after coming to look for a man at a bar in the southeast of Minatitlan, a spokesman for the government of Veracruz said.
Seven men, five women and a child died in the shooting, which occurred close to Minatitlan’s oil refinery, one of six run by state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). Four other people were injured, the state government said in a statement.
The motive for the killings was unclear, the spokesman said.
The man the gunmen were seeking was identified as the owner of a bar in the city, the state government said. The attack took place during a family celebration.
It was not immediately clear if the man owned the bar where the attack occurred, nor whether he was present at the time.
Hugo Gutierrez, the head of public security in the state, said on Twitter that an operation had been launched to capture the people responsible for the killings.
The oil-rich state of Veracruz has been convulsed by gang violence and political corruption scandals for several years.
Lopez Obrador took office in December vowing to reduce violence in Mexico, where more than 200,000 people have been killed since the end of 2006 in brutal turf wars between drug cartels and their clashes with security forces.
After reaching record levels in 2018, murder rates have stayed high, surpassing previous-year levels in the first three months of the new government, official government data shows.
The president was due to visit Veracruz on Sunday, according to an official schedule published before the attack took place.