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Iran’s IRGC seizes foreign ship smuggling fuel in Persian Gulf, arrests entire crew

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows a foeign tanker vessel in Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has confiscated a foreign vessel smuggling thousands of liters of fuel in the Persian Gulf region and arrested the entire crew members, a senior Iranian Judiciary official says

Mojtaba Ghahramani, head of the Justice Department of Iran’s southern province of Hormozgan, said on Saturday that the IRGC Navy forces had seized the foreign vessel carrying 220,000 liters of smuggled fuel in Parsian County, south of Hormozgan.

“During the inspection of this vessel, more than 220,000 liters of smuggled fuel were seized and 11 foreign crew members were detained,” said Ghahramani, adding that the detainees will remain in custody during the investigation process and the ensuing legal procedure.

He did not provide details on the nationality of the confiscated vessel.

Ghahramani said the IRGC also seized an Iranian boat carrying 20,000 liters of diesel that sought to supply fuel to the foreign vessel, adding that its three crews were apprehended.

He said the confiscated fuel was delivered back to Hormozgan’s oil refinery.

“Such criminal acts by fuel smugglers who plunder national assets in coordination with foreigners will not be hidden from the sight of the judiciary officials and officers, and the perpetrators of such crimes will be punished severely and without leniency,” Ghahramani said.

The incident comes after a series of seizures of smuggler vessels by Iranian Navy forces in the sea lanes serving the Persian Gulf, where a large portion of the world’s oil is produced and shipped.

Iran's IRGC announced in November last year the arrest of a foreign boat carrying 150,000 litres of smuggled diesel and the arrest of 11 foreign crew members, without disclosing further details.

The IRGC's Navy has foiled several attacks on both Iranian and foreign tankers.

The elite force recently released detailed footage of its confrontation on October 25 against an American act of piracy targeting an Iranian fuel shipment.

During the episode, American forces confiscated the tanker that was carrying a cargo of Iranian oil in the strategic Sea of Oman, transferring its consignment of crude to another vessel.

The IRGC then staged a maritime operation against the second vessel, landing its helicopters on its deck and navigating the ship towards Iranian waters.

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