15 suspected Hizballah members are on trial in France, charged with money laundering Colombian narcotics money.

The individuals are believed to have trafficked cocaine for a Colombian drug cartel and used their proceeds to purchase weapons for Hizballah. The cell is believed to have used some of the funds to purchase luxury goods like watches and jewelry worth €10 million. These items were then re-sold in Lebanon or West Africa.

As part of the investigation, €250 million was seized along with weapons and a luxury vehicle.

Analysis: Drug trafficking is increasingly being used by terrorist organizations to raise funds. While some analysts have argued that terrorist groups have an ideological opposition to the drugs trade, in practice, most terrorist groups will use this method (and many others) to raise funds. The movement of value through luxury goods such as jewellery and high-end vehicles is also an effective means of moving value without using the formal financial sector.

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