Hezbollah Money Laundering Probe Focuses On Tulsa Car Dealership

Saturday, December 17th 2011, 2:03 am
By: News 9

Havonnah Johnson, News 9

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The DEA launches an investigation into a multi-million dollar money laundering scheme which starts in Oklahoma and involves Americans helping terrorists.

The scheme begins at used cars lots which are used as a cover for drugs and illegal activity.

Federal agents say it is a complicated scheme to cover the funding of terrorists. It involves 20 states and least 30 used car lots. The investigation is just beginning.

Undercover agents closed in on one used car dealership in Tulsa Friday. It is but one of dozens officials say are involved in a multi-layered money laundering scheme

Fifty-six terrorists groups all over the world are looking for new sources of funding. One of the ways they can find it is through drug sourcing activities.

Here is how it works. Used cars are shipped from the U.S. to several West African countries. After they are sold at a 15- to 20-percent mark-up, the profit goes to Hezbollah. Some money then gets returned to the United States to buy more cars.

In all, 30 domestic companies are being investigated. The red flag for the deal? A small call dealership in Tulsa. Authorities say Ace Auto in Tulsa received more than $20 million in wire transfers.

A joint terrorism task force is looking for more than $480 million dollars from Lebanese institutions.

No one was arrested in Tulsa, but authorities should reveal more in the coming weeks.