A federal grand jury in Detroit charged 19 individuals with operating a global racketeering conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy announced in an indictment unsealed on Wednesday.
The indictment alleges that portions of the profits made from the illegal enterprises were given to Hizballah, a foreign terrorist organization. Nine of the individuals were arrested on Wednesday.
The indictment charges that between 1996 and 2004, the group dealt in contraband cigarettes, counterfeit rolling papers, and counterfeit Viagra, produced counterfeit cigarette tax stamps, transported stolen property, and laundered money.
The enterprises operated from Lebanon, Canada, China, Brazil, Paraguay, and the U.S.