The shift put Mexico’s drug cartels in the lead and helped them amass billions of dollars and an estimated 100,000 foot soldiers, according to U.S. defense officials.
Hezbollah shifted its trade routes along with the drug cartels, using Lebanese Shi’ite expatriates to negotiate contracts with Mexican crime bosses, Mr. Braun said.
The World Trade Bridge between Nuevo Laredo and its sister city, Laredo, as well as Interstate 35 and Highways 59, 359 and 83, are like veins feeding the Mexican syndicates, running from southern Texas to cities across the U.S. and as far north as Canada, U.S. officials say. In addition, access routes from El Paso, Texas, to San Diego are also high-value entry points.
Ben Conery contributed to this report.