Jo Tuckman

October 13, 2011

The Iranian plot the US government says aimed to murder Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington allegedly fell down because a member of the Mexican Zeta drug cartel hired to carry out the job for $1.5m was actually a US informant.

The informant told the Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) in May that he had been contacted by alleged Iranian agent Manssor Arbabsiar. They held several meetings in Mexico which were taped. Methods discussed reportedly included a targeted assassination and a bomb.

Arbabsiar flew to Mexico in late September allegedly to serve as a guarantee that full payment would follow the assassination. The Mexican government has confirmed that it denied him entry and put him on a flight with a stopover in New York, where he was arrested.

The Zetas are one of main protagonists in Mexico’s bloody drug wars, where they are fighting rival cartels and a military-led offensive. Their stronghold is the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas, just over the border from Texas. They also have a presence in Guatemala. The cartel is said to operate trafficking routes into Europe as well as the US.

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