The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) successfully ferried B747-300M YV3531 (msn 23413), formerly operated by Emtrasur Cargo, from Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini/Ezeiza to Miami Dade-Collier on February 12, 2024, following lengthy legal procedures in Argentina.

The US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Markenzy Lapointe, said the United States’ seizure of the freighter took 18 months of planning, coordination, and execution between the US and Argentinian government. The Miami field offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security are now investigating alleged ties between Emtrasur Cargo, a now-dormant subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned Conviasa (V0, Caracas Simón Bolivar), and sanctioned Iranian carrier Mahan Air (W5, Tehran Mehrabad), the B747's last known owner.

Argentina initially detained the plane on June 6, 2022, shortly after the United States issued a seizure warrant. According to the US authorities, YV3531 was transferred from Mahan Air to Emtrasur, a cargo subsidiary of Conviasa, thus violating US export control laws. The Iranian carrier is subject to a Department of Commerce Temporary Denial Order, which prohibits it from engaging in any transactions involving commodities exported from the US subject to the Export Administration Regulations.

Additionally, the US authorities argued the unauthorised transfer of YV3531 directly benefited the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC-QF) and Hizballah. “Mahan Air – [is] known to ferry weapons and fighters for the IRGC-QF," Assistant Secretary of Export Enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod said.

The release of the aircraft follows the recent change of power in Argentina when pro-US American President Javier Milei took over from more Venezuela-friendly Alberto Fernandez.

Venezuela’s government issued a statement saying the United States and Argentina’s governments had blatantly stolen Emtrasur’s aircraft. It denounced before the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) “the violation by both aforementioned governments of the international regulations to which States are bound in matters of air navigation, which generates a serious situation of unprecedented legal and operational insecurity in our region.” Venezuelan Minister of Transportation and President of Conviasa, Ramón Celestino Velásquez Aragüayan, added that the carrier received an invoice for parking fees at Ezeiza airport for June 2022, when the aircraft was originally detained. The Argentine air navigation services provider (Empresa Argentina de Navegación Aérea - EANA) is demanding USD7,066 from Conviasa, according to an invoice shared by Velásquez on social media.

YV3531 is a 38-year-old aircraft first delivered to UTA - Union de Transports Aériens in January 1986. It also flew for Air France between 1992 and 2006, Garuda Indonesia between 2006 and 2007, Blue Airways between 2009 and 2021, and Mahan Air between 2009 and 2021, before being transferred to Venezuela in January 2022. It was Emtrasur Cargo's only aircraft.