In what has been described as the "growing nexus" between drug trafficking and terrorism, four men, including Taliban and Hezbollah operatives, were arrested Tuesday in a drugs-for weapons sting operation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The alleged terrorists were part of a crime ring reportedly intent on supplying Stinger missiles, AK-47 automatic rifles and U.S. carbines to the Taliban and Hezbollah. According to an ABC report, Manhattan U.S. Attorney said:
"Today's indictments provide fresh evidence of what many of us have been seeing for some time: the growing nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism, a nexus that threatens to become a clear and present danger to our national security," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
At least two of the men arrested, Lebanese national Bachar Wehbe and Afghan national Tazar Gul Alizai, are currently on U.S. soil and are reportedly set to appear before a federal court in Manhattan.
Investigators told ABC that Alizai, an alleged Taliban member, was caught selling assault rifles and a sizable amount of heroin to an undercover DEA agent while in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Wehbe, an alleged member of Hezbollah, was nabbed along with two other suspected Hezbollah operatives by undercover DEA agents. The three were allegedly planning to use proceeds from their heroin sales to buy Stinger surface-to-air missiles, AK-47 rifles and M-4 rifles. Wehbe's suspected Hezbollah comrades, Siavosh Henareh and Cetin Aksu, are apparently in custody in Romania awaiting extradition to the U.S.
According to ABC, the current busts are the third and fourth of its kind recently conducted by the DEA, including the case of international arms broker Victor Bout.
And on the broad scale, these sting operations are reportedly part of the DEA's larger drug enforcement mission that has made it possible for federal prosecutors to tie in arms dealing cases that might have otherwise escaped U.S. jurisdiction.