The U.S. government has seized control of a Boeing 747 cargo plane that had been previously, sold by an Iranian airline under sanctions to a Venezuelan state-owned firm, a move that officials say breaches American export control laws. The aircraft, which according to the Miami Herald, was once the property of Mahan Air, landed in Miami after being transferred to the Venezuelan cargo airline Emtrasur, without the necessary U.S. authorization.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, head of the Justice Department's national security division, made clear the implications of such a transgression. "The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that the full force of U.S. laws deny hostile state actors the means to engage in malign activities that threaten our national security," Olsen stated, as detailed in a report by NBC Miami. The Justice Department also reported that the aircraft would soon be "prepared for disposition," though additional details were not provided.
The seizure punctuates what has been described as an, unauthorized financial dealing between Mahan Air – a company said to have ties with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force – and Venezuela's Emtrasur. U.S. officials have stressed that Mahan Air has long been the subject of restrictions due to these alleged connections.
Investigations following the plane's detention in Argentina last year revealed troubling travels. According to the Miami Herald, a flight log found onboard indicated unauthorized flights from Caracas to Tehran and Moscow. This log lends credence to the U.S.'s assertions that Mahan Air operated outside of legal boundaries, despite the airline's claims to the contrary.
Amid the international legal skirmish, the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty (Alba Alliance) has condemned the seizure, going so far as to label it "theft" and an infringement on Venezuelan sovereignty. "This aggression is another consequence of the unilateral coercive measures imposed by the government of the United States that threaten the sovereignty of Venezuela and violate the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter and International Law," the alliance, which includes countries such as Nicaragua and Bolivia, said in a statement reported by NBC Miami.