US Demands Custody of Grounded Venezuelan Flagged 747 in Argentina

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has demanded custody of a grounded Boeing 747-300M cargo aircraft in Argentina.

The DOJ issued a seizure warrant on July 19 for the 747 aircraft which is allegedly being operated illegally by a freight airline from Venezuela.

According to the DOJ, the violations are connected to the unauthorized transfer of the plane from Mahan Air, an Iranian carrier linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), “a designated terrorist organization,” to Empresa de Transporte Aéreocargo del Sur (EMTRASUR), a Venezuelan cargo carrier and a division of the Venezuelan state-owned company Consorcio Venezolano de Industria (CONVIASA).

“The seizure of this aircraft demonstrates our determination to hold accountable those who seek to violate U.S. sanctions and export control laws,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia.

A Temporary Denial Order barring Mahan Air from engaging with any item subject to the Export Administration Regulations was issued by the US Department of Commerce in 2008 and has since been renewed on a regular basis.

The DOJ asserted that between February and May 2022, EMTRASUR re-exported the aircraft between Caracas, Venezuela; Tehran, Iran; and Moscow, Russia, in violation of US export control laws.

A Mahan Air flight log that listed the plane’s trips following the allegedly illegal transfer to EMTRASUR, including a trip to Tehran, Iran, in April 2022, was discovered by Argentine law enforcement while searching the aircraft.

“The FBI, along with our international partners, will continue to seek out those individuals who contribute to the advancement of Iran’s malign activities,” said FBI Counterterrorism Assistant Director Kevin Vordran.

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