Are Terror Groups Teaming Up With South American Drug Cartels to Infiltrate America?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 15, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And in today's post-9/11 world, the war on drugs has taken a backseat to the war on terror but recent evidence suggests the two may be linked.

According to a 2005 confidential government report, Mexican drug cartels are teaming up with Muslim gangs to fund sleeper cells right here in the U.S. and abroad. The document also claims some of the Islamic terrorists are disguising themselves as Hispanics.

Joining us now with more on this very dangerous connection is the former director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Asa Hutchinson.

First of all, I want to get one issue out of the way so most people understand. There are sleeper cells here in the U.S. Secretary Chertoff has confirmed that for me. You believe that to be true, right?

ASA HUTCHINSON, FORMER DEA DIRECTOR: I do. I mean, clearly, law enforcement has identified them in the past, dismantled those. And obviously, it's an ongoing concern that we have.

HANNITY: All right. Explain the connection with the drug cartels, teaming up with these Muslim gangs. And what they're doing and how widespread, and what kind of threat this means for the American people.

HUTCHINSON: I've really been talking about this connection between drug trafficking organizations and terrorism for the last five years. And the DEA has done an outstanding job in going after the drug traffic organizations.

Now we realize that nearly half of the terrorist organizations have some funding or ties to illegal drugs. And so that connection is there. But we see, periodically, new evidence of that.

And whenever you look at the southwest border, for example, you have the drug trafficking organizations. They might build a tunnel. They're not particular about who their customer is.

Whether it is a Mideastern terrorist or whether it is an alien wanting to come in, they all operate in legal territory. They're happy to do business with each other. So it's a partnership of convenience that is certainly a danger.

HANNITY: This is a little hard, I think, for most people to understand. So we have sleeper cells in the country. And that means that there are people waiting for the phone call, the e-mail, the input to go to a certain location and involve themselves in an act of terror against the United States.

We have funding that we now know is going on as connected to these drug cartels. I mean, have we infiltrated them? You know, how do we go to sleep at night, knowing that there are a bunch of people in this country ready to kill us, and they now have the money to do it through this drug money?

HUTCHINSON: Well, law enforcement is working very hard. And knock on wood, in the last five years since 9/11, we haven't had an attack. So clearly, there's been some success there. But it's an ongoing threat.

And you have to be careful, because the intelligence is not always as clear as you'd like it to be. Whenever you're operating outside of the law, you need funding. Sometimes the state funding dries up.

Your external sources, and your result, it might be that trafficking in illegal cigarettes. It might be in illegal drugs. Whatever brings that money in, there's evidence of that. That's how many of them operate.

KIRSTEN POWERS, GUEST CO-HOST: Hi, it's Kirsten Powers. Thanks for being with us.

What's interesting to me is that you said you've been talking about this for five years. And it doesn't seem like that much is being done to address the problem.

HUTCHINSON: Well, it's personal. It's very important to recognize the connection. And the American people shouldn't be skeptical of that. It's not a matter of wonderment. It's really a matter of established fact.

And that should help us to dry up the demand for illegal drugs and make good decisions in our country.

But secondly, it is important that we not forget about what the DEA is doing, the great fight against illegal drugs. It is just as important to us because it has an impact on our fight against terrorism.

POWERS: But I mean, the war on drugs is not something that I think most Americans think of as being wildly successful. And if you're saying that's how this is being fought, I think that that's somewhat concerning. Don't you think it's more of a border security issue?

HUTCHINSON: Well, it's a border security issue, but it goes beyond that. It's an international problem with the drug trafficking. You have something that we have to support in Mexico and the tri-border area in South America that helps to fund terrorism, as well.

And so it's a matter of education. It's a matter of right decisions, and law enforcement.

HANNITY: Thanks again for being with us. Appreciate your time.

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