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A Florida-based broker, Federico Andres Machado, the fourth defendant in the indictment involving Wright Brothers Aircraft Title and Aircraft Guaranty Corporation, has been detained by Argentine airport security police at Presidente Perón International Airport, Neuquén. Machado, who was indicted by the US Justice department on February 24th, had been attempting to board a flight to Buenos Aires when he was detained by police at Interpol’s request.
Machado was born in Viedma, a city on the Rio Negro river, Argentina but settled in Florida, reportedly establishing himself as a Fort Lauderdale-based broker. Machado reportedly owns two dedicated aviation companies in the state of Florida, South Aviation and Pampa Aircraft Financing.
His arrest was carried out by order of Federal Court No. 2 of Neuquén, in the charge of federal criminal judge, Gustavo Villanueva.
Interpol had issued a red alert on behalf of the US government – which accuses Machado of being part of a criminal organisation dedicated to trafficking cocaine through the use of the fleet of airplanes, some of which allegedly were under his control.
US Marshalls raided the Oklahoma City-based offices of Wright Brothers Aircraft Title before Christmas last year, arresting Debbie Mercer-Erwin, the owner of Wright Brothers and Aircraft Guaranty Corporation and her daughter Kayleigh Moffett.
Federal prosecutors accused Mercer-Erwin, Moffett and six other individuals, including Machado, of seven different charges. Various defendants are accused of running a complex $350m Ponzi scheme, helping drug traffickers deregister and change aircraft ownership records, failing to register aircraft exports and participating is a series of fake aircraft transactions. (Ponzi schemes lure investors to make investments and pay profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors).
The accused face charges of multiple drug-related offences, as part of a scheme to conceal ownership of foreign aircraft, according to indictments filed in Texas.