100 AR-15 and 100 M-16 assault rifles, 10 M-60 machine guns, C-4 explosives, 2,500 hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades. In exchange for the weapons, the FARC was to deliver 938 kilograms of cocaine to Yousef.39 ¶ While negotiations progressed, Yousef stated that the weapons had been stolen from Iraq and were being stored in Mexico by Yousef’s cousin who is an active member of Hezbollah. To establish their bona fides for the trade, Yousef’s cousin videotaped the weapons cache on location in Mexico. Towards the completion of the transaction, it was learned that the weapons cache was actually larger than had been first reported. The deal was amended to include the additional weapons in exchange for 7,000 to 8,000 more kilograms of cocaine that would be delivered to the coast of Honduras.40 ¶ The transaction was never completed because Yousef was arrested and imprisoned in Honduras on separate charges beforehand. In August 2009, Yousef was extradited to New York where he awaits trial. ¶ The explanation for Iranian presence in Latin America begins with its symbiotic relationship with Hezbollah. 41 United in their dedication to the destruction of Israel, Iran has helped Hezbollah grow from a small group of untrained guerrillas into what is arguably the most highly trained, organized and equipped terrorist organization in the world.42 In return, Hezbollah has served as an ideal proxy for Iranian military force – particularly against Israel – which affords Iran plausible deniability diplomatically.43 Hence wherever Hezbollah is entrenched, Iran will be as well and vice-versa. ¶ The primary reason for Iran’s increasing presence and influence in Latin America is based on its growing ideological and economic relationship with Venezuela . Ideologically speaking, both regimes share a mutual enmity of what they perceive as the imperialist agenda of the United States. 44 Economically speaking, the two countries have partnered together in an attempt to survive and thrive despite being ostracized in varying degrees from the official economy and its financial and trade systems.45 ¶ On the latter score one would be hard pressed to find a country that has been more successful at overcoming sanctions and embargoes levied by the United States and international community than Iran. In spite of ever-increasing economic constraints dating back to the Carter Administration, Iran has managed to fight an eight year war with Iraq, become the world’s biggest sponsor of terrorism, vigorously pursued its own nuclear program and become the prime destabilizing
factor in the Middle East. 46 ¶ This impressive adaptability relies in no small part on Iran’s creativity in exploiting unscrupulous businesses, criminal networks and other corrupt regimes for economic survival. For rogue leaders like Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, who see embargoes and sanctions as just another manifestation of American oppression and imperialism, Iran has become their champion and welcomed ally.47 This sentiment has developed into a cooperative understanding that, to the extent they can be
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