U.S. Cracks Down on Lebanese Cocaine Ring
The United States on Wednesday levied sanctions against an alleged Lebanese cocaine trafficking ring, with operations spanning Latin America, West Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
The group -- led by Ayman Joumaa and including at least nine other people and 19 entities -- was said to have laundered proceeds worth as much as $200 million per month.
U.S. citizens and businesses will now be barred from trading with the group and any assets in the United States will be frozen.
"Today's action will disrupt this network and obstruct their access to the international financial system," said Adam Szubin, head of the Treasury's Department of asset control.
The group is said to have sold multi-ton shipments of cocaine from South America, laundering the proceeds in Europe and the Middle East via foreign-exchange businesses.
The Drug Enforcement Administration uncovered holding companies linked to the group in Panama's Caribbean free-trade zone, Benin and the Democratic Republic of Congo.