It Just Won't Die

 Well, the plot thickens. We’re talking (again) about the story that just won’t die, the Emtrasur Boeing 747 cargo plane, the “Mystery Flight”, and crew that have been detained in Argentina for over two months now. As Caracas Chronicles tells us, we have two parts to this story, the plane and the crew.

 First, the plane itself. The Boeing 747 (manufactured in the US) was owned by Mahan Air (Iran) who is under sanction by the US preventing participation in any transaction involving US manufactured products (like the plane). They transferred ownership of the plane, despite being prohibited by sanctions from doing so, to Emtrasur, a subsidiary of Conviasa (Venezuela government-owned airline). The plane has had a dubious track record, to say the least, of flights that quite possibly had nefarious purposes and were not what they were purported to be.We’ve previously covered this and it’s well documented.

 The US wants the plane turned over to them for sanctions violations while the Maduro regime wants the plane returned to Venezuela claiming it’s used for humanitarian purposes.

 Then we have the crew, which was detained in Argentina as well. Of the original 19 members (an unusually large crew for a routine cargo flight), 12 have been allowed to return home while the other 7, four Iranians and three Venezuelans, are still prevented from leaving Argentina. We’ve previously covered all the questions surrounding these guys including ties to Quds Force, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s foreign operations arm (remember, they’re the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism) as well as Hezbollah and others. The investigation is ongoing.

 Now we have Argentina Federal Judge, Federico Villena, ordering the plane to stay in Argentina in compliance with a request from Argentina Prosecutor General, Cecilia Incardona, to support the request from the US-DOJ (United States Department Of Justice) that the plane remain there.

 Judge Villena ruled that FBI investigators be authorized to board the plane and conduct an inspection. He further stated that the request from the US was handed down through Justice Minister, Juan Martin Mona, and is being treated as a separate file from the main charges against the crew (I wasn’t aware there had been any charges) so there will be no appeal.

 Now it has also been revealed by authorities in Paraguay that there are ties between the crew and the criminal organization that murdered Paraguayan prosecutor, Marcello Pecci, in Colombia. In March the plane was in Ciudad Del Este and the crew met with Federico Santoro Vasallo, who is in the business of drug trafficking and money laundering. His boss, Sebastian Marset Cabrera, has been accused of being the mastermind behind Pecci’s assassination.

 On Thursday a group of deputies from Maduro’s National Assembly, the president of Conviasa, and Emtrasur workers took a document to the Argentinian Embassy to demand the plane and crew return to Venezuela.

 We also have this from BA Times…A large group of Nicolas Maduro’s followers gathered in Caracas to protest Argentina’s continued detention of the “Mystery Plane”. It is a typical choreographed demonstration by the Chavistas, as evidenced by most of the “protesters” being Conviasa employees. When questioned about the links of crew members to Quds Force and Hezbollah and their association with the perpetrators of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people with 300 victims overall, Maduro said it was “a false positive”.

 Moving on…Three Venezuelan migrants drowned in Panama trying to cross the Darien Gap, one of the most dangerous migrant crossings in the world for a number of reasons. This story is notable only because most deaths in Darien go unreported and they’re not usually drownings. Most of the drownings occur with Venezuelan migrants trying to reach Trinidad and Tobago in overloaded boats.

 And “The Chicken” is back in the news.Hugo Carvajal asked Spain’s Audiencia Nacional for his release. He said he needs to be free in order to better coordinate his defense before extradition (to the US). He was denied for risk of absconding.

 Then we have Law 360 reporting that Lloyd’s of London has reached a deal with a French and a German bank , who sued Lloyd’s over failure to pay pertaining to the Venezuela government seizure of ships that they financed and were insured through Lloyd’s. OK, so Lloyd’s made a deal with these guys over a Venezuela seizure(s) but wouldn’t make a deal with a Greek bank over another Venezuela seizure, let it go to court, and won. The French and German banks must have had a better policy.

 And we have Interfax reporting that Russia has appointed a new co-chairman of the Russia-Venezuela High-Level Intergovernmental Commission. One can only wonder if the new guy can crank out more “historic, strategic agreements” with Nicolas Maduro or whoever is the Venezuela co-chairman?

 Then we have the T&T Guardian reporting that 4 of 10 people arrested in anti-crime exercises in Trinidad and Tobago were Venezuelan nationals. That won’t help the xenophobia situation in Trinidad and Tobago.

 And we have the Government of the Republic of Serbia releasing a statement regarding 140 years of diplomatic ties between Serbia and Venezuela. I was hoping to get some information about more “historic, strategic agreements” in the works but the body of the statement was in Cyrillic so…I got nothing.

 Then we have the Russian Ambassador to Colombia, Nikolay Tavdumadze, confirming that Venezuela installed Russian radar on the border with Colombia, to be used to “protect against foreign invasion” and as further justification said there are foreign military bases in Colombia too.

 And we have Nicolas Maduro appointing Felix Plasencia as the new Ambassador to Colombia. Talk about multi-tasking…this guy has been appointed as Foreign Minister, Ambassador to China, and Minister of Tourism and Foreign Commerce as well.

 Then we have the Coalition for Democracy and Human Rights demanding to know the whereabouts of lawyer, Jecson Corial Garcia. He was arrested in Tachira on August 6th and was allegedly moved to Caracas but nobody knows where he is.

 And we have the Confederacion de Sordos (deaf people) de Venezuela protesting the difficulties disabled children and teenagers endure to get their identity documents, from lack of materials and lack of information in accessible formats to discrimination by public workers. I guess we can add them to the list of everyone else in Venezuela making similar claims.

 Then we have the US- DOJ saying that Argentina citizen, Luis Fernando Vuteff, and Swiss citizen, Ralph Steinman have been accused of conspiracy to launder money. Between 2014-2018 they used a bribe scheme to launder $1.2 billion from PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company).

 More tomorrow….

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