MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A purported Hezbollah associate arrived in Miami-Dade County on Friday evening after Cyprus agreed to turn him over to U.S. authorities to face money laundering charges in Miami-Dade County.
Ghassan Diab, 37, had been a fugitive since 2016. Drug Enforcement Administration agents started the case in Medellin, Colombia where Diab’s brother-in-law Mohammad Ahmad Ammar was suspected of running a money-laundering operation linked to narcotrafficking.
Cyprus arrested Diab after his arrival from Lebanon in March 2019, and after several legal battles, Cyprus Supreme Court judges agreed to extradite him to the U.S. in June. Diab’s charges stem from crimes he allegedly committed in 2014, after Ammar came into contact with a DEA informant in Colombia.
Ammar was arrested in California and extradited to Miami-Dade County in 2016. About two years later, he was convicted of one count of money laundering in excess of $100,000 and one count of conspiracy to commit laundering in excess of $100,000.
Diab is facing two counts of money laundering in excess of $100,000, two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering in excess of $100,000, two counts of operating an unlicensed money transmitter in excess of $100,000, and two counts of unlawful use of a two-way communications device.
The U.S. designated Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization after the July 2012 attack in Bulgaria left five Israeli tourists dead and 32 injured. Hezbollah deployed operatives to raise funds around the world after the U.S. terrorist designation.
Aside from the DEA, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, the U.S. State Department, the Office of the U.S. Ambassador to Cypress and the U.S. Marshals Service’s Office of International Affairs all worked on the case.
“I am particularly proud of the work done by our South Florida Financial Crimes Strike Force and the Extradition Section of my Legal Division, for working so closely, for so long, with the Federal authorities,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement.