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

EUROPE CRIME / 10 AUG 2011

The rise of the Zetas as not just a Mexican menace but as a…

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 23 AUG 2011

While many of Mexico’s tourist spots have remained apart from the bouts of drug violence buffeting the country,…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 19 JUL 2012

Twenty people have been arrested in Texas accused of being members of a ring which trafficked weapons to the Zetas…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.