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Accused Jet Smuggler Faces February Trial

FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) - Federal prosecutors say a Texas man brazenly tried to smuggle seven jet airliners from China into Iran for more than $136 million.

Diocenyr Ribamar Barbosa-Santos, 52, of Fort Worth was charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iranian Transaction Regulations on Nov. 2, according to a federal criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida.

Fergus Norton, a special agent with the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, said Santos began exchanging email messages with an undisclosed, confidential source in January.

"Santos outlined the terms of a financial arrangement for the purchasing of seven Airbus passenger aircrafts for Iran Air for 19.5 million per aircraft totaling [$]136.5 million," Norton said in a nine-page affidavit attached to the criminal complaint. "Santos stated that he would send the bank agreement to Iran Air and they would send the letter of credit to the bank."

During a February meeting with an undercover agent, Santos said he knew the illegality of the sale and advised the agent that they, as Americans, could all go to jail for simply talking about the transaction, Norton said.

Santos allegedly inquired about other items on the U.S. Munitions List, including C-130 military cargo aircraft.

The discussions about the sale, securing financing and how to ferry the aircraft from China to Iran continued through October, the complaint stated.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley slated the case for a trial starting on Feb. 4, 2013.

Santos faces up to 20 years in federal prison and up to $1 million in fines.

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