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Iran busts large ring involved in smuggling tobacco products

Iran says members of a large network involved in smuggling tobacco products have been arrested.

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry says it has busted a large network that was involved in smuggling tobacco products into the country.

The Ministry said in a Wednesday statement that members of the network had been operating in an organized way in 10 Iranian provinces as part of 15 connected smuggling bands.

The statement said members of the network had earned millions of dollars from the illegal transfer of cigarettes and tobacco into Iran, adding that the proceedings were funneled to bank accounts outside Iran by making use of illegal currency exchange shops.

It said some 60 people had been arrested as part of the operation which led to the discovery and closure of more than 100 warehouses used to store the smuggled tobacco products.

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry said the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and judicial authorities in Iran had contributed to the operation to bust the smuggling network.

Facing a shortage of hard currency resources because of foreign sanctions, Iran has introduced strict regulations in recent years to crack down on smuggling across its borders.

Authorities have also been tough on cigarette smuggling as part of plans to help domestic manufacturers and to prevent the use of unsafe products by smokers in the country.

Some experts say increasing prices of domestically-produced cigarettes have led to a rise in tobacco products smuggling into Iran in recent months.

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