The Plane with Iranian crew set off alarms throughout the region four Weeks ago

 

The Plane with Iranian crew set off

The international alarms over the flights of a plane manned by Iranians and Venezuelans in the Southern Cone began to ignite four weeks ago throughout the region, but even so they were insufficient: what their crew members did in the Triple Frontier for more than 48 hours is a mystery, according to what LA NACION managed to reconstruct from sources in three countries.

The main focus of concern has been since 10:10 p.m. on Friday, May 13, when the Boeing 747 Dreamliner aircraft of the firm Empresa de Transporte del Sur SA (Emtrasur) landed in Paraguay, at the Guaraní International Airport, Ciudad del Este, and what happened during that weekend. That is, until the aircraft took off at 3:42 a.m. on Monday the 16th.

The plane landed in Paraguay with 7 Iranian crew members and 11 other Venezuelans. That is, ten more than is usual when it comes to freight transport. “This is what the company declared, although really cargo planes always bring 6 or 7 crew members: it was surprising that more people have come,” recognized the director of Airports of that country, Douglas Cubilla , to ABC Radio Cardinal AM 730 of Asunción .

The number of crew members who arrived in Paraguay also drew attention because neither the Iranians nor the Venezuelans took charge of loading the merchandise onto the aircraft. "The loading of cigarettes was done with forklifts, without the intervention of these people," they told LA NACION from Paraguay.

View of the Boeing 747-300 registered with the number YV3531 of the Venezuelan airline Emtrasur Cargo at the international airport of Córdoba, Argentina, on June 6, 2022, after taking off for Buenos Aires.  The plane was transporting components for automobiles and had 14 Venezuelan crew members and five Iranians, it is being held at the Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires.

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View of the Boeing 747-300 registered with the number YV3531 of the Venezuelan airline Emtrasur Cargo at the international airport of Córdoba, Argentina, on June 6, 2022, after taking off for Buenos Aires. The plane was transporting components for automobiles and had 14 Venezuelan crew members and five Iranians, it is being held at the Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires.

The crew stand out for a remarkable trait in common:everyone loves the most extreme low key. Hardly any data about all of them appears on the Internet. And with a couple of caveats, there are no photos, no posts, no direct or indirect allusions to them on social media.

All the costs derived from the arrival, stay, loading and departure of that plane, meanwhile, were billed to a firm based in Paraguay, but with an Anglo-Saxon name: Mike Air Service SRL .That company identifies itself as a representative of the Emirates and Airexpress airlines, and as a "service provider of Aerolineas Argentinas".

As soon as they got off the Venezuelan registration plane YV3531, all its crew left the airport. "Venezuelans do not require a visa to enter Paraguay and Iranians, as crew members, do not require either," Asunción told LA NACION . That allowed them to move to Ciudad del Este and stay at the Dazzler Hotel.

That was the last that was heard of them for a little over two days.

"No one 'smelled' them in Paraguay," they indicated from that country. I mean, they lost track of them. “The [Paraguayan] authorities do not have traceability [of the 18 Iranian and Venezuelan crew members] since they left the airport,” they indicated.


What happened at the Triple Frontier?

The unanswered question, then, is what happened during that weekend. Did they just wait and rest in their hotel rooms? Did they walk around the city? Did they meet someone at the Triple Frontier? Did they receive or deliver information or goods?


The loading of the merchandise, for the time being, only began at 10 pm on Sunday and lasted for four hours, without prior setbacks in the customs and anti-drug review of the shipment of cigarettes from Tabacalera del Este SA (Tabesa) for almost 800,000 Dollars. One of the owners of this tobacco company is former Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes . The name of the dog that sniffed for drugs? Bono, like the singer of U2.

The Paraguayan state surveillance system, however, failed. The National Intelligence Secretary only learned about that plane when a prestigious local journalist, Mabel Rehnfeldt, revealed her movements in Ciudad del Este.

The worrying signs accumulated. Among other reasons, because the plane turned off the identification device known as a "transponder" when it was in flight to Aruba. Did he land on that Caribbean island? Did you change your destination and turn towards Venezuela? Did he have enough fuel to head for Iran? It is another mystery.

In command of that aircraft, meanwhile, was Gholamreza Ghasemi , the same Iranian pilot who is now stranded in Argentine territory, where Justice is trying to determine if he is a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard of Iran, whose armed wing is the elite Al-Quds force, or a namesake.

Born on November 22, 1958, in Tehran, in Paraguay they believe that it is the same man. They are based on intelligence reports they received from Israel, according to what LA NACION reconstructed . Those reports also link him to arms trafficking and the transfer to Iran of coffins of Iranian soldiers and militiamen from Syria in recent years.


Reaction in Washington

The Israelis were not, however, the only ones who reacted to the movements of that plane in South America. At least one agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation ( FBI ) whose base of operations is Buenos Aires traveled urgently to Paraguay in search of information, while alarms were sounded from Washington.

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The Minister of the Interior of Paraguay, Federico González , confirmed it yesterday to the press of his country. He stated that his country and the United States alerted Argentina and other countries in the region about the suspected plane. “We received a notice that it is a company and therefore an aircraft that was sanctioned by the United States Department of the Treasury and that its crew members were members of the Al-Quds Force, the revolutionary force of Iran, whom the United States has on a terrorism list,” the official detailed.

The Paraguayan reaction registered consequences in that same country and in the region. The Uruguayan authorities, for example, prohibited the aircraft from entering their airspace when it was already flying over the Río de la Plata, while Paraguay rejected two requests to enter its territory. The last request, as reconstructed by LA NACION , was this Sunday, when it was about to take off from Buenos Aires.