(CNN Spanish) –– The United States government seized a Boeing cargo plane from Venezuelan state-owned Amtrasur that was sold by a sanctioned Iranian airline in violation of federal export control laws, a Justice Department statement released Monday said.
The cargo plane, a Boeing 747-300M, departed from Argentina, where it had been stationed since 2022, and landed at an undisclosed airport in Florida.
Before its sale to a Venezuelan state company, the plane was owned by Mahan Air, a company that Washington points to for its support of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, which is designated a terrorist organization by the United States.
The US Department of Justice, with assistance from the US Attorney’s Office in Miami, obtained the forfeiture order in July 2022. Since then, the plane has been grounded until now.
The seizure was ordered in cooperation with the Argentine authorities. CNN attempted to contact Argentina’s airport police, as well as Judge Federico Villena – who was in charge of the case in the South American country – without receiving a response as of this Monday afternoon.
Emtrasur Company is a subsidiary of Conviasa, the flag airline of Venezuela.
After the aircraft’s arrival in the United States was announced, Venezuela’s foreign minister, Yvan Guille, described the plane’s transfer as “theft” and said the action “violated all the rules governing civil aeronautics, as well as commercial, civil and political rights.” which helps the aforementioned company, threatens the aeronautical security of the region,” according to a statement released earlier on Twitter by its X account.