US to review Hezbollah drug trafficking

Obama officials ‘may have mishandled investigations to push through Iran deal’


Washington: Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a review of the Obama administration’s handling of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) programme targeting drug trafficking by Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Sessions did not say what prompted the review and stopped short of accusing the prior administration of wrongdoing. But the announcement comes after a Politico report that raised questions about whether Obama administration officials thwarted investigators’ work on the programme for fear of jeopardising a nuclear deal with Iran.

Politico reported the DEA programme known as Project Cassandra had been targeting the terrorist group’s trafficking of cocaine into the US and abroad but was stymied by Obama officials. The administration at the time was eager to improve relations with Iran and stall its nuclear weapons programme. Sessions said the review will evaluate “allegations that certain matters were not properly prosecuted” and ensure the investigations were correctly handled.

“Operations designed to investigate and prosecute terrorist organisations that are also fuelling that drug crisis must be paramount in this administration,” he said in a statement.

“While I am hopeful that there were no barriers constructed by the last administration to allowing DEA agents to fully bring all appropriate cases under Project Cassandra, this is a significant issue for the protection of Americans.”

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