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Is It Really 'Easier Than It May Seem' to Smuggle Airliners?

December 3, 2012 at 10:07 AM | by | ()

We don't really like to delve into travel politics too much. We'll post news for you when it's suitably important or suitably weird or suitably an opportunity to score good hotel deals by taking advantage of regional unrest. But on the whole we prefer to give you travel advice on, and pictures of, very cute baby leopards.

In this case the story involves taking the deadly serious situation with Iran and adding an element of south Florida craziness. South Florida, of course, is the part of the United States where the newest very sad fad is to rent tiny alligators to miserably swim around the pool during children's birthday pool parties. Now take that kind of sensibility and combine it with one of the most unstable geopolitical situations on earth. The results aren't technically entertaining, but they're at least worth flagging as things that actually exists.

By now nobody needs to be told that sanctions on Iran are affecting travel to the country. If you've tried to process an international ticket since October of 2011 on Iran Air, for instance, you've failed. U.S. officials pointed to evidence that the commercial airline was being used by Iran's military to move weapons, and that was that. There are also lots of restrictions on Iran that in general affect its aviation industry, and Iran Air's airplanes are in disrepair.

Now add south Florida, which in addition to being populated by characters out of a David Lynch movie has apparently become "a hotbed of illicit transactions of all kinds."

Federal prosecutors are accusing local resident Diocenyr Ribamar Barbosa-Santos of trying to juggle a $136.5-million deal that would have used Swiss funds to move seven Airbus airplanes from China to Iran Air. If that strikes you as something that people aren't allowed to do, you'll be unsurprised to learn that Barbosa-Santos faces 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

If you want to smuggle airplanes in general though, don't be too discouraged. The article has a quote to the effect that "moving seven commercial airplanes is easier than it may seem." While we're not sure what that means—and we're not sure that it fits a story where a guy was quickly arrested for trying—it at does nicely line up with the rest of this surreal story.

[Photo: dgperis]

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