A US citizen who mysteriously disappeared in Iran while on a business trip is a former FBI agent in New York and Florida known as a meticulous investigator and an expert in busting Italian and Russian mobsters.
The retired agent was identified as Robert Levinson, 59, of Coral Springs, Florida, a US official familiar with the case said on Tuesday.
He was last heard from around March 11 while in a coastal area of southern Iran, where he was working for an independent filmmaker, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the situation. Levinson was reportedly near or on Kish Island, a resort area in the Persian Gulf.
The US government is seeking information from Iran on Levinson's whereabouts through diplomatic channels, officials said.
The tall, burly Levinson is an expert on organized crime who sometimes worked 20-hour days, his former colleagues recalled.
Levinson was an agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration before he joined the FBI in 1976. He was assigned to New York, home to the notorious five Mafia families. He transferred to the Miami FBI office in the early 1980s and specialized in the Russian mob there.
FBI spokesman Richard Kolko, while declining to identify the missing person, confirmed that he was a retired agent who was not working as an FBI contractor when he disappeared.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the agency has sent a letter to the Iranians through diplomatic intermediaries asking whether authorities had any information about the man.
"It's an American private citizen who is in Iran on private business," McCormack said. "We have been monitoring this situation for a couple of weeks now."
He said the State Department has been in constant contact with the man's family and his employers since he was reported missing.
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