The retired head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s special-operations division contended on Wednesday that the Obama administration “lost a gold opportunity to crush Hezbollah” due in part to political motivations to secure a nuclear deal with Iran.
Derek Maltz, who spearheaded a major law enforcement operation targeting Hezbollah’s trafficking of cocaine, said that the United States cannot again allow political gamesmanship to permit the Iranian-backed terrorist group to perpetuate its narcoterrorism campaign.
In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Maltz said, “There’s an old saying, opportunities come and go. In my personal opinion, having been the guy in charge of the special operations for ten years, we lost a gold opportunity to crush Hezbollah.”
In December, Politico reported the clandestine dismantling of these efforts by the Obama administration, an initiative called Project Cassandra, due to apprehension over disturbing Iran as President Barack Obama sought a nuclear deal with the country. In the report, Maltz said he had “no doubt” that multilateral negotiations with Iran handicapped ongoing operations against Hezbollah’s drug trafficking network.
“There is certainly an argument to be made that if tomorrow all the agencies were ordered to come together and sit in a room and put all the evidence on the table against all these bad guys, that there could be a hell of a lot of indictments,” Maltz told Politico.
During his congressional testimony, Maltz iterated that statement, telling lawmakers that the United States needs improved interagency cooperation to confront Hezbollah’s terrorism efforts and the transnational criminal organizations that generate millions in funding for the group.
“Sadly, 16 years after 9/11, we’re still talking about information sharing. It’s a disaster,” Maltz testified. “If terrorists are turning to criminal networks for their funding, how can we have a system where the terrorist investigators and the intelligence community and others are not communicating properly with the law enforcement agencies?”
Maltz recommended that the Trump administration assign responsibility to someone to bring together federal, state, and local agencies under an interagency task force to combat narcoterrorism.
Maltz also spoke out on the matter in a recent, powerful Fox News interview: