The United States is worried about the possibility of Mexican drug cartels acquiring advanced Russian anti-aircraft missiles through Venezuela, according to a leaked cable.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised concerns to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow that announced sales of advanced anti-aircraft arms to Venezuela -- including the Igla-S (SA-24) MANPADS, Russia’s most advanced and considered one of the most lethal portable air defense systems ever made -- could make their way into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, according to the released cable.
The U.S. Department of State did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The cable cites lax security of arms in Venezuela and their links with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The leftist guerilla group is suspected of having ties to drug cartels.
In the cable, sent Feb.14, 2009, the U.S. government asked its embassy to negotiate with Russia for the holding back of the sale of anti-aircraft equipment to Venezuela.
"In light of Venezuela’s relationship with the FARC, corruption within the Venezuelan military, and our assessment that Venezuela’s stockpile and security management practices do not meet international standards, we are concerned there is a significant risk that these weapons could be diverted to the FARC," the cables read.
"Further," it continues, "we fear that should these sophisticated systems fall into the hands of the FARC, they could possibly be sold or traded to drug organizations, including those in Mexico, which are actively seeking to acquire powerful and highly sophisticated weapons for use against government forces."
Read the original cable.