HomeNewsBriefIran Not a Threat in Latin America: Biden
BRIEF

Iran Not a Threat in Latin America: Biden

ZETAS / 9 MAR 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

US Vice President Joseph Biden downplayed Iran’s potential to affect US security through Latin American alliances, further calling into question those who suspect links between the Islamic state and organized crime networks in the region.

Speaking after his visit to Honduras and Mexico earlier this week, Biden told CNN, “People talk about Hezbollah. They talk about Iranian support for weapons and the rest. I guarantee you, Iran will not be able to pose a hemispheric threat to the US.”

InSight Crime Analysis

The US recently deemed transnational crime, particularly that stemming from Latin America, to be an "abiding threat" to its national security. If Iran's links to Latin American criminal groups were legitimate, therefore, it seems that Vice President Biden would not downplay the issue.

His low level of concern is not shared by all in the US, particularly the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla). Last month, Ros-Lehtinen pointed to the “Iran-Zetas” plot in October 2011 as proof of the growing threat of Iran in Latin America. The “plot” involved an alleged member of Iran’s Qods Force who supposedly sought the collusion of the Mexican drug gang to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in the US.

Ros-Lehtinen also highlighted the danger posed by the “synergy" between Hezbollah and the drug cartels in Latin America.

However, the purported links between Iran and organized crime networks in the region cannot be substantiated. The Iran-Zetas allegation propounded by Ros-Lehtinen rested on a poor understanding of the Mexican underworld, making the legitimacy of the claim, and thus Iran’s actual involvement, highly questionable.

As the director of Southern Pulse told InSight Crime at the time, it is hard "to believe that the Zetas would entertain the thought of bombing a target on U.S. soil." Since the group committed five murders in Texas between 2005 and 2006, they have been especially low-key with their operations across the border due to the response they incurred from US authorities for the homicides.

In light of this, it is highly dubious that Iran, through its elite force no less, would ever look to seek out a partner with no history of cross-border political attacks and with no stated desire to venture into the business.

With regards to Hezbollah, the group's biggest support base in Latin America lies in the tri-border area of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay where it relies mainly on financing from local syndicates. Given the nature of these links, Hezbollah is not believed to be actively involved in directing organized crime in the region. This is far cry from Ros-Lehtinen’s dangerous Hezbollah-drug cartel nexus, making such claims from Washington seemingly more based on political fears than any hard evidence.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 16 FEB 2011

A classified State Department cable, written in February 2009 and released recently by WikiLeaks, shows that the United States had…

GULF CARTEL / 16 NOV 2010

Mexico’s “Drug War” has generated its first displaced persons camp, consisting of 400 people taking shelter at a charity facility…

MEXICO / 3 JUN 2013

Mexico's Navy has arrested Eduardo Treviño Treviño, a close relative of the Zetas' top leader, wanted by the US DEA…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…