Exclusive insights into the Iran-backed drug kingdom of Houthis

Press Release | Republic Underground, Timberwolf-Phoenix LLC 

May 5, 2021

With the arrival of mullah’s representative Hassan Earlo, the substantial illicit trade in Sana’a, Yemen skyrocketed. Houthis run an empire of fear, seducing youths and small children to join their militia. Years after the spark of radicalism in Saada, Republic Underground meets an esteemed panel of experts to discuss the IRGC-backed drug empire of the Houthi movement. 

Join moderator Irina Tsukerman, along with Dr. Frank Musmar, forensic accountant Charbel Hage, and former IDF intelligence officer Captain (res.) Eric Schorr in an exhaustive discussion of the drug empire fueling Iran’s terrorist proxy Network. 

An unnamed source spoke with Okaz media and noted that the drug trafficking ring within Sana’a is composed of al-Houthis finest. 

“Earlo heads a team that includes Muhammad al-Houthi, Abu Ali al-Hakim, brother of the militia’s leader, Abdul Karim al-Houthi, Faris Manna’s and other leaders working in secret,” while security reports stated that there are 39 hangars in the capital, Sanaa alone, used by Houthi merchants to hide the various types of drugs they import. From Iran, in coordination with the mullah’s representative, Hassan Erlo, and is smuggled through the ports of Hodeidah and Saleef and fishing ports north of Hodeidah,” said the source, as quoted by Okaz media. 

From the beginning, drugs obtained power for the Houthis


On May 1, Abd al-Wahhab Tawaf, former Yemeni ambassador to Syria, commented on the drug empire the Houthis built. He gave context to a story that Nashwan News has covered from its outset, in his recent op-ed with the media service.

Abd al-Wahhad Tawaf stated that, in 2008, there was an active commercial road between Yemen and Syria. Smugglers exploited it. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia managed to crack down on the smugglers and to confiscate large supplies of contraband. Yet, despite the KSA’s best efforts, smugglers became creative and were able to sneak the goods in even through Sana’a airport. The former ambassador noted that the smugglers went so far as to stuff contraband inside of candy and food. Smugglers exploited multiple commercial routes that ran through the Saudi territory. The goal was to exploit Saudi youth and use the ensuing drug addiction to finance the campaign in Yemen.

The former ambassador to Syria noted the direct involvement between the al-Houthis movement and Iranian Shiites, linking the training camps to Sayyida Zainab, Greater Damascus, Syria.  

“I went twice to meet with Major General Ali al-Mamlouk, head of General Intelligence, who is one of the most important Syrian leaders, and the issue of drug trafficking and the issue of recruiting and training Yemenis in the Sayyida Zainab area in Damascus by Iranian Shiite leaders, as well as allowing Yemenis to travel between Damascus and Tehran without stamping their passports,” wrote Abd al-Wahhad Tawaf, regarding the early detection of drug smuggling at the start of the movement. 

Nashwan News reported, from the Yemeni ministry of the interior, that drug dealers financed the Houthi rebellion, as far back as 2009. The Ministry of the Interior then stated that the Houthi movement in the Saada governorate financed its munitions acquisition from drug money. The Yemeni government confirmed it seized 28 tons of drugs and 20 million narcotics tablets during 2008 and the first half of 2009. 

Aawsat News confirmed that 10 years on, the Houthi continued to use the drug trade as a weapon to exploit the people of Yemen. Prohibited items are even sold in grocery stores that are under Houthi control. 

Reported drug varieties included a shipment of hashish that was seized by the Marib governorate in mid-June 2019. The security report continued to note the strong ties between Houthis, drug gangs, and the Lebanese Hezbollah, along with other IRGC-backed entities. Reuters reported in 2017 that Iran had developed new routes to smuggle to Yemeni rebels, including direct routes from Iran, and alternative routes from Somalia. 


Aawsat also noted, from local testimony, that the Houthis had begun their exploitation of drugs by transforming strips of desert in the early 90s into “Green Farms” for drugs. These farms were located in Haradh and Midi which are on the border of the KSA. 

Late last year, Aden reported the destruction of a drug shipment that was en route to Houthis and was sent directly from Hezbollah. 

The Yemeni News Agency reported destroying 250 kilograms of narcotic cocaine, originating from the Lebanese Hezbollah, during a seizure of contraband in Aden, Yemen, reported on October 28, 2020. 

Smuggling and the exploitation of drug abuse in surrounding areas continue to be a major problem to present. BCM Public Health gave a recent report on the status of drugs and smuggling from Kuwait. In Kuwait, the most seized substances are cannabis, heroin, opium, and cocaine. Amphetamines, including methamphetamine, have been seized in the form of powder or pills. 

In March, the KSA foiled an attempt to smuggle 3 million amphetamine pills, which were hidden in a shipment of stone and marble. The KSA sabotaged the operation with the assistance of the counterparts from Kuwait’s Ministry of the Interior, see Arab News. 

Kuwait has seen high profile cases of creative drug smuggling in recent months. In November 2020, Kuwait 24 Hours reported that a drug smuggling ring had been busted stuffing contraband into shipments of grouper fish. This follows a disturbing trend in recent history in even animals were caught up in deployment of drugs. Coastal Digest reported that a carrier pigeon in Kuwait had been caught smuggling a backpack of drugs in May 2017.

The issue of drug smuggling and the exploitation of Gulf citizens through illegal substances has led Saudi Arabia to put sanctions on Lebanon, specifically on Lebanese produce, see this report by Al Arabiya in April.

The KSA put the sanction on Lebanon after the KSA’s customs foiled an attempt to smuggle 5million Captagon pills stuffed into pomegranate shipped from Lebanon. The fruit and vegetable trade between the KSA and Lebanon is worth $24million per year. The KSA will not lift the sanction on Beirut until Beirut cracks down on drug smuggling. 

Arab News reported the issue of massive quantities of drugs smuggled in fruit on April 25. Massive drug loads were seized by both Saudi Arabia and Greece. Drug smuggling shipments were seized at Dammam’s King Abdulaziz Port with millions of amphetamine pills discovered inside pomegranates. Another drug shipment was seized in Jeddah. Additionally, Greece reported discovering four tons of cannabis stashed in the dessert-making machinery at Piraeus. The shipment was en route from Lebanon to Slovakia.

Iran connected North Africa to its wide sweep drug ops through Polisario. Morocco severed ties with Iran due to backing of Polisario drug traffickers…

BCM Public Health noted in its recent report noted a smuggling connection from Morocco to the Gulf exists in 2021. The major elements of that drug trafficking came from cannabis. 

Morocco cracked down on Iran-backed activity in 2018, severing ties with Iran over its backing of the Polisario Front, which likewise uses drug trafficking to support its movement. This was confirmed since at least 2016, when Moroccan police busted an “international drug trafficking network” that had links to Polisario, The New Arab reported on September 2, 2016. 

Morocco officially severed ties with Iran once the Kingdom discovered that Iran-backed Hezbollah had been training the Polisario militants, and that a shipment of weapons was sent to the Algeria-backed Polisario via an element of the Iranian embassy to Algiers.  Morocco closed its embassy in Iran and expelled the Iranian ambassador to Rabat over this issue, reported Arab News on May 1, 2018. 


Tune in on May 6 at 4pm New York, 11pm Riyadh to stream live exclusive insights into the major drug network that plagues MENA and empowers the bloodshed of the Houthis. Don’t miss free access to a panel you will never find via MSM.