A U.S. airframe and powerplant mechanic has been accused of trying to broker a deal that would deliver seven jetliners out of China to Iran. Federal court papers state that 52-year-old mechanic Diocenyr Ribamar Barbosa-Santos planned to secure aircraft at $19.5 million each from a Chinese source, with intent to sell them to Iran Air for a profit. The Iranian airline has suffered due to sanctions by the United States that some say challenge the carrier's safe operation. The U.S. has offered to help the airline complete repairs outside of Iran, an offer Iran has so far declined. Barbosa-Santos allegedly met with an undercover federal agent in February after government officials received a tip that he was working on a deal with China and Iran, but so far the rest of the details are few.
Barbosa-Santos is a Brazilian-born U.S. citizen whose criminal history in the U.S. was previously limited to disorderly conduct and trespassing violations that were never prosecuted. He registered two businesses in the early 2000s and in 2004 obtained a certificate from the FAA to work as an aircraft mechanic on airframes and powerplants. His alleged scheme involving $135 million worth of commercial aircraft would have theoretically provided Iran Air with more reliable equipment. The carrier has complained that sanctions against the Iranian government threaten the safety of the Iranian traveling public due to difficulties faced in getting proper parts and affecting proper repairs for its aircraft. When meeting with the undercover agent, Barbosa-Santos warned that the two men could go to jail for their part in the deal, according to the federal complaint. If convicted, Barbosa-Santos faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.