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Iran’s IRGC dismantles large network of fuel smugglers, detains all members

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 foreign tanker in Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has dismantled a large “organized” network smuggling fuel to neighboring countries, arresting all members.

According to a Thursday statement, the IRGC unit in central Markazi Province said its intelligence forces successfully identified and busted “one of the largest organized networks” involved in smuggling subsidized fuel in an “accurate and professional intelligence operation.”

The network has been active in eight provinces in the country, said the statement, without specifying them.

Abusing official documents, the network smuggled “more than 200 million liters of petrochemical products” under the guise of oil byproducts meant for export, the statement added.

The IRGC said the southern Persian Gulf littoral states, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq were the main destinations of the smuggled fuel.

The network’s members were handed over to judicial officials, it noted.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice of Iran’s Hormozgan Province Mojtaba Qahremani also said on Thursday that a vessel carrying 90,000 liters of smuggled fuel had been seized in the waters around Kish Island in the Persian Gulf.

A naval team has been dispatched to the zero point of the border to conduct patrol, he added, noting that during the operation, it chased and seized a boat that was passing through Iran's territorial waters.

Qahremani said criminal warrants had been issued for the captain and five other crew members and they were detained.

Iran has vowed that the Persian Gulf would never be a safe place for smugglers.

In the course of April, the IRGC seized three vessels carrying  smuggled fuel in the Persian Gulf in separate operations.

The IRGC’s Navy has also foiled several attacks on Iranian and foreign tankers alike.

It recently released detailed footage of its operation against an American act of piracy targeting an Iranian fuel shipment last October. During the episode, US forces confiscated a 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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