THE United States Customs Service is investigating claims that an Israeli criminal network based here provided weapons and training for Colombian drug traffickers, the Miami Herald reported Sunday. The newspaper said the Miami network allegedly aided an April 1989 shipment of Israeli-made automatic weapons to Medell'in cartel leader Jos'e Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha via the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Mr. Gacha was killed in a shootout with police in December 1989.
Earlier this month, an official panel in Antigua prepared a report concluding that several Israelis in Miami arranged the arms deal with the help of Antiguan government officials. The Herald obtained a copy of the report, which has not yet been made public.
Although none of the $353,700 shipment of weapons entered the US, the Customs office in Miami is investigating whether the Israeli group's actions may have violated US export, neutrality, and money laundering laws, the newspaper said.
The Israeli government has previously denied any role in the arms transshipment.
The Miami Herald story, citing the Antiguan official report, said the Israeli government initially attempted to cover up a retired general's role in the arms deal and accused the Israeli government of failing to investigate the role of Israel Military Industries, the state-owned manufacturer that shipped the arms to Antigua.