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DOJ Completes Forfeiture of Plane Illegally Used by Venezuelan Airline

DOJ this week completed the forfeiture of a U.S.-origin Boeing 747 after a monthslong effort to seize the plane from Mahan Air, a sanctioned Iranian airline.

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The forfeiture “culminates over 18 months of planning, coordination, and execution by the United States government and our Argentine counterparts,” said U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe. The cargo plane arrived in Florida on Feb. 11, and DOJ said it would be “prepared for disposition.”

The plane was first detained in Argentina by the country’s government last year after the U.S. accused Empresa de Transporte Aereo Carga del Sur, a Venezuelan airline, of illegally flying it between Venezuela, Iran and Russia (see 2401230020). The Venezuelan airline had acquired the plane from Mahan Air, DOJ said, which has ties to the sanctioned Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp-Qods Force.

Mahan Air violated U.S. export restrictions by selling the plane to the Venezuelan airline, said Matthew Axelrod, the top export enforcement official for the Bureau of Industry and Security. “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.”