Yesterday, the United States justice asked Argentina to seize the Venezuelan-Iranian plane held in Ezeiza, due to the violation of export control laws in that country. This is the ship that is being investigated by the Argentine federal justice for its alleged connection to terrorist activities and from which seven of its Venezuelan and Iranian crew members remain detained.
The US Department of Justice asked Argentina to seize the Boeing 747-300M, after the seizure order issued by the Court of the District of Columbia, which opened a judicial action there.
The order, which was issued on July 19, 2022, alleges that the US-made aircraft is subject to forfeiture based on violations of US export control laws related to the unauthorized transfer of the aircraft. of Mahan Air, an Iranian airline linked to Hezbollah and the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard of Iran, an organization designated as terrorist by the United States.
The official statement indicates that the confiscation of the plane is requested because it belongs to the Empresa de Transporte Aéreo Cargo del Sur (Emtrasur), a Venezuelan cargo airline and a subsidiary of the Venezuelan Consortium of Aeronautical Industries and Air Services (Conviasa).
In 2008, the US Department of Commerce, the official statement says, issued, and has since periodically renewed, a “temporary denial order” prohibiting Mahan Air from engaging in any transaction involving any product exported from the United States. United States that is subject to the Export Administration Regulations.
The US seizure order explains that in October of last year, Mahan Air violated the temporary denial order and US export control laws when it transferred custody and control of the Boeing aircraft to Emtrasur without authorization. from the White House.
Subsequently, the order says, additional violations of US export control laws occurred. Between February and May 2022, Emtrasur re-exported the aircraft between Caracas, Venezuela; Tehran, Iran; and Moscow, Russia, without the authorization of the Government of the United States.
The seizure order mentions that, in June 2022, Argentine authorities detained the flight crew of the Boeing plane, including five Iranians. The aircraft’s registered captain, Gholamreza Ghasemi, was identified as a former IRGC commander and shareholder and board member of Iranian airline Qeshm Fars Air. Argentine police also searched the aircraft and found a Mahan Air flight log documenting the aircraft’s flights after the “illegal” transfer to Emtrasur, including a flight to Tehran in April 2022.
And it notes: “Working with our partners around the world, we will give no quarter to governments and state-sponsored entities that seek to evade our sanctions and export control regimes in the service of their malign activities.”
As this newspaper has been publishing, of the 19 crew members of the plane, the Argentine federal justice retained seven, who are still prohibited from leaving the country, while possible connections with terrorist cells are investigated. They are four Iranians, including the pilot and co-pilot, and three Venezuelans. In a resolution of almost 300 pages, the magistrate described the evidence against him, although he has not yet decided whether they will testify as defendants.