Eight individuals have been arrested and charged with crimes including conspiracy to commit federal registration violations involving aircraft, international drug trafficking, money laundering, wire fraud and export violations. The indictment alleges that the defendants concealed the ownership and export status of aircraft held in trust through Aircraft Guaranty Corporation (AGC), an aviation trustee service provider originally based in Onalaska, Texas. The indictment also states that a number of aircraft held in trust by AGC were deregistered or ownership was transferred after they were seized carrying drugs. In addition, individuals involved were charged with running a Ponzi scheme related to the acquisition of aircraft.
“The indictment in this case demonstrate that individuals who choose to circumvent Federal regulations pertaining to aircraft registration and ownership will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law,” said Todd Damiani, Special Agent-In-Charge, Southern Region, U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG). “The collaborative nature of this investigation is representative of the ongoing investigative work DOT-OIG performs to ensure aviation safety and maintain national security interests in order to prevent the nefarious acts these defendants are being charged with from occurring.”
The indictment (PDF) was put forward by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Texas. If convicted, defendants could serve ten years to life in prison for drug charges and up to 20 years for money laundering, wire fraud and export violations. As previously reported by AVweb, AGC drew attention in 2019 for having around 1000 aircraft in trust, all listing one of two Onalaska post offices boxes as a registration address.