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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit
04/16/2010

ICE agents seize $8 million helicopter planned for illegal shipment to Iran

ARLINGTON, Texas - Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Thursday seized a Bell helicopter with an estimated value of $8 million that was destined for shipment to Iran in violation of trade sanctions.

Federal agents had first grounded the helicopter in its Arlington, Texas, hangar in December. The aircraft is owned by the Italian company Tiber Aviation.

U.S. Federal District Judge John McBryde, Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, signed the civil arrest warrant to seize the aircraft.

"This case shows how U.S. export laws help protect this country by preventing others from using our own technology against us," said John Chakwin Jr., special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Dallas. "ICE acts as one of the prime enforcers of export laws."

Exporting aircraft components and other goods to Iran without obtaining licenses from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) violates the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

This is an ongoing joint investigation by ICE and the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security.