BEIRUT

Middle East

Israel arrests 16 in Hezbollah-linked drug bust

An Israeli military vehicle drives along Israel's border with Egypt's Sinai desert, near the Nitzana crossing, August 20, 2013. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

BEIRUT: Israeli police arrested 16 Israeli-Arabs over involvement in a operation to smuggle drugs and weapons with a Lebanese criminal allegedly connected with Hezbollah.

Quoting the Israeli security agency Shin Bet, Israeli media said the suspects, who are known to be drug dealers, had ties with Hezbollah-linked drug traffickers in Lebanon.

They were arrested on July 27 over accusations of undertaking "terrorist activity at the behest of Hezbollah,” the agency said.

Four of the suspects were identified as Halim Abbas, a resident of Nahaf; his brother, Ezzeddine Abbas, also a resident of Nahaf; Ahmed Mazariv, a resident of Beit Zarzir; and Riyadh Marariv, also from Beit Zarzir.

Shin Bet said that Hezbollah sought to assist Hamas during Israel's assault on Gaza, warning the drug operation could have been a cover to smuggle weapons and establish “a terror infrastructure to perpetrate terror attacks.”

The agency said the suspects were in contact with a Lebanese man from Marjayoun, identified as George Nemer and described as “a major player for Hezbollah's drug trade.”

Investigations revealed that the suspects were part of a plan to transfer weapons into Israel along with drugs, and that the four named suspects had undertaken reconnaissance of the border in search of a smuggling route.

Questioning the four also uncovered their alleged connections to several other major Hezbollah-linked Lebanese drug figures.

 

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