The Venezuelan-flagged Boeing 747-300 freighter aircraft registration YV3531 of the company Empresa de Transporte Aerocargo del Sur (Emtrasur), a subsidiary of Conviasa, has left after 20 months the Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Ezeiza, Argentina, for the United States.
Caracas objected to the decision but Argentine diplomatic sources said it had been ruled by the judiciary, who decided to grant a request from a US Judge to seize the aircraft linked to logistics operations in several terrorist attacks worldwide.
The four-engined aircraft arrived in Argentina on June 6, 2022, from Mexico carrying auto parts for a local Volkswagen factory. But being blacklisted by the United States, she was denied refueling at Ezeiza. Then she tried to make a stopover in Montevideo for that purpose but to no avail and had to fly back to Argentina. In the incident, 14 Venezuelan and 5 Iranian crew members were arrested for their alleged links to international terrorism but were eventually released for lack of evidence as to their financing of terrorist activities. In the meantime, a court in the District of Columbia ordered in October 2022 the seizing of the Venezuelan-Iranian aircraft. It argued that since the plane was transferred to the Venezuelan firm in October 2021, without U.S. authorization, it violated a 2008 order issued by the Department of Commerce.
The aircraft belonged to the Iranian company Mahan Air and is currently in the hands of Emtrasur, a subsidiary of Consorcio Venezolano de Industrias Aeronáuticas y Servicios Aéreos (Conviasa), sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.
”The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela categorically rejects the blatant theft of the Boeing 747-300 aircraft, acronym YV 3531, belonging to Empresa de Transporte Aerocargos del Sur (EMTRASUR S.A.), consummated today after the collusion between the governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Argentina, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil wrote on X.
The Bolivarian government accused Argentina and the United States of having violated in an artful manner (...) all the norms that regulate civil aeronautics and of having put at risk aeronautical security in the region.
Free and sovereign Venezuela will give a forceful, direct, and proportionate response to this attack, for which it will use all available resources within the framework of the national Constitution, diplomacy, and International Law, the Bolivarian regime also warned and denounced the case before the International Civil Aviation Organization.
No empire, nor its lackey satellites, will be able to bend the will of the Venezuelan people, who have decided to follow the path of true independence, Caracas insisted.
The Department of Justice today [Monday] completed the execution of a final order of forfeiture of a U.S.-made Boeing 747 cargo aircraft formerly owned by Mahan Air, a sanctioned Iranian airline affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), US authorities said in a statement.
On February 11, the government of Argentina transferred physical custody of the aircraft to the United States pursuant to the final forfeiture order, which was issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on May 3, 2023, holding all rights, title, and interest in the aircraft in the United States of America. The Boeing 747 cargo aircraft arrived in the Southern District of Florida where it will be prepared for disposition, it went on.
The seized U.S.-built aircraft was transferred by a sanctioned Iranian airline in a transaction that violated U.S. export control laws and directly benefited the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is a designated terrorist organization,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department's National Security Division.