Uploaded by SDAMatt2a on Mar 28, 2012
Feds: Yassine Brothers Funneled Money To Hezbollah
Owners of some of Austin’s most lucrative nightclubs were dealing in drugs, laundering the money through the clubs then funneling it to a family member with ties to a terrorist group in the Middle East, according to federal authorities.
During bond hearings in federal court in Austin Tuesday, an Internal Revenue Service investigator said Hussein “Mike” Ali Yassine and Mohammed “Steve Austin” Ali Yassine sent money in $2,500 increments to their uncle, Mohammed Ishmael in Lebanon. Authorities say he is associated with Hezbollah, a militant group and political party in Lebanon. The U.S. Department of State lists Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
The Yassines, their brother, Hadi Ali Yassine and seven business associates were arrested last week on narcotics trafficking, money laundering and firearm charges.
Yassine Enterprises owns nine nightclubs — Pure, Stack, Fuel, Spill, Kiss & Fly, Hyde, Roial, Malaia and Treasure Island. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has temporarily shut down the clubs.
Tuesday Hussein Ali Yassine, Mohammed Ali Yassine and Alejandro Melendrez were denied bond. Four were granted bond — Hadi Yassine, Marisse “Madi” Marthe Ruales, Amar Thabet Araf and Sami Derder. No decision has been made on bond requests for Nizar “Nino” Hakiki, Karim Faiq and Edgar Orsini.
During three hours of testimony, Assistant U. S. Attorney Gregg Sofer questioned Randall Gillette, special agent with the U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency and James Neff, criminal investigator with the Internal Revenue Service.
The agents explained its undercover sting operation in which a confidential source was used to arrange two sales of cocaine between Steve Yassine and Nizar Hakiki. The agents testified the proceeds from the deals were then funneled through Yassine`s nightclubs and Famous Vodka, owned by Hadi Yassine, the third brother.
Neff also stated in the hearing that the business was reporting income of $1 to $2 million when it actually was taking in between $7 and $10 million.
According to testimony, the Texas Comptroller’s Office has frozen Mike Yassine’s accounts. It was also revealed that he has bank accounts in Switzerland and Lebanon.
Several of the defendants are under investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.