The Hezbollah terrorist group has 100 active "sleeper cells" in Latin America, according to media reports in the continent.
The Iranian-sponsored Shia jihadist group has long maintained close ties with the drugs and illegal weapons trades in Latin America, and has a substantial organizational infrastructure in several central and southern American counties. It's success has relied in great part on a substantial Lebanese expat community scattered throughout the region.
US intelligence services – and particularly the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – have long warned of Hezbollah's major role in the drugs trade, as well as its extensive money-laundering activities, as part of its fund-raising efforts.
According to a recent report in Argentina's La Nación newspaper, Hezbollah's presence in Latin America is now the strongest it has ever been, with the terrorist group maintaining a particularly strong presence in the so-called Triple Frontier – the tri-border area along the junction of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil, where some of the region's most dangerous drug cartels operate. Hezbollah's presence is also strong along the Venezuelan-Columbian border – another drug-trafficking hotspot.
But the terrorist group's activities in Latin America are not limited to criminal "fundraising" enterprises. The paper reports that some 100 Hezbollah terrorist sleeper cells are currently stationed in the region, primed and ready to carry out attacks when the orders are given.
The paper claimed Hezbollah's extensive network in the region was largely down to the staunchly pro-Iranian stance of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who worked hard to enable Tehran and its proxies to establish a footprint in the area, as part of his anti-Western, anti-American agenda.