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Wed, Feb 14, 2024

Repo Man Comes for Iranian 747

Boeing 747 of Mahan Air Handed Over from Argentine Custody

A Boeing 747 once owned and operated by Iranian carrier Mahan Air has been handed over to the US authorities, after the country filed a complaint that the plane's sale to a Venezuelan cargo line violated sanctions.

The aircraft was sold off from Mahan Air to Empresa de Transporte Aéreocargo del Sur SA, a subsidiary of CONVIASA, a state-owned company in Venezuela. The US alleged that the sale violated export control laws, since Mahan was subject to a Department of Commerce Temporary Denial Order, which prohibited them from "engaging in any transactions involving any commodity exported from the United States that is subject to the Export Administration Regulations."

The aircraft had been detained by Argentine law enforcement when it landed there in July of 2022. The US sprung on the chance, filing a civil forfeiture complaint. Logs aboard the 747 uncovered additional headaches for the Venezuelans, with evidence of further export controls violations committed with flights between Venezuela, Iran, and Russia. The cherry on top to bolster their claim was the Iranian carrier's ties to hauling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a relationship that reinforced government claims to have the plane returned to the states.

“The United States’ forfeiture of the Boeing 747 cargo plane culminates over 18 months of planning, coordination, and execution by the United States government and our Argentine counterparts,” said U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida. “Bad actors – both near and far – are on alert that the United States will use all its tools to hold those who violate our laws to account.  The successful seizure of the Boeing 747 underscores our commitment to prevent the illegal exportation of U.S. technologies and enforce U.S. export control laws.”

“Mahan Air – known to ferry weapons and fighters for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hizballah – violated our export restrictions by selling this airplane to a Venezuelan cargo airline.  Now, it’s property of the United States government,” said Assistant Secretary of Export Enforcement’s Matthew S. Axelrod. “This seized airplane’s arrival in the United States is a powerful example of our unceasing efforts to prevent Iran and its proxies from leveraging and profiting from U.S. technology.”

FMI: www.justice.government

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