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Iran dismantles foreign fuel smuggling ring, seizes Philippine ship

Iran dismantles foreign fuel smuggling ring, seizes ship. (File photo)

Iran says it has dismantled a fuel smuggling ring after seizing a Philippine tanker in the Persian Gulf and taking its crew into custody.

Colonel Hossein Dahaki, the commander of Hormozgan Province coastguard, said Saturday that his forces had  detained 12 Philippine nationals and their towboat.

An illegal shipment of nearly 284,000 liters of smuggled diesel fuel, worth about 323 billion rials ($2.8 million), was also confiscated as part of the operation.

The coastguard chief added that much observation and intelligence work had been done in order to identify the large-scale fuel smuggling ring.

“Smuggling, be it in any field, has destructive consequences on the country’s economy and it requires a firm stance against organized networks smuggling goods, currency and specially fuel," Dahaki said.

The coastguard official added that the case would be followed up through legal procedures.

Devaluation of the Iranian rial as a result of US sanctions on the country over the past year has helped form a lucrative smuggling business across Iran’s borders.

Despite massive efforts to counter the illegal trade, the cheap prices of fuel in Iran still encourage traffickers to siphon it out of the country.

Gasoline is currently pumped into cars in Iran at a price of $0.09 while diesel is sold at even a lower price of $0.03. The government has considered reducing subsidies on the two types of fuel mainly to curb the illicit trade.

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