PHOENIX — A Venezuelan air force colonel has been sentenced to 19 months in federal prison for exporting military aircraft engines to Venezuela, following a joint probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and FBI.
Guiseppe Luciano Menegazzo-Carrasquel, 49, was sentenced Aug. 19 by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow for conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act. In addition to the prison term, Menegazzo-Carrasquel will be subject to three years of supervision. Menegazzo-Carrasquel pleaded guilty to the charge June 3.
According to court documents, Menegazzo-Carrasquel was part of a Venezuelan air force team that negotiated with Mesa-based Marsh Aviation between November 2005 and February 2008 to refurbish 18 T-76 aircraft engines for use by the Venezuelan air force, under the guise that the engines were meant for civilian use.
T-76 engines are a designated item on the U.S. Munitions List, which, under the Arms Export Control Act, makes it illegal for these engines to be exported without a license or written authorization from the Department of State. The T-76 aircraft engine was designed for the OV-10 Bronco Aircraft, a light armed reconnaissance aircraft specifically suited for counter-insurgency missions.
"Our investigation showed that the defendants in this case falsely claimed these engines were parts for civilian aircraft in an attempt to circumvent the law," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. "The enforcement of arms export controls keeps America safe. One of HSI's top enforcement priorities is preventing military equipment and sensitive technology from falling into the hands of those who might seek to harm America or its allies."
Menegazzo-Carrasquel, who is a dual Venezuelan and Italian citizen, was indicted on arms export charges in October 2010. He was arrested by HSI special agents in September 2012 at George H. Bush Intercontinental Airport after he arrived in Houston on a flight from Caracas, using his Italian passport.
Floyd D. Stillwell, 87, former president of Marsh Aviation, who was also charged in the scheme, pleaded guilty Oct. 29, 2012, to conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act and was sentenced May 13 to a $250,000 fine and five years' probation.