Iran seized a boat and arrested 12 Filipinos as it busted a “fuel-smuggling ring” in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported.
“A foreign tugboat was confiscated as well as 283,900 litres (75,000 gallons) of petrol worth 233.71 billion rials ($20.2 million),” ISNA said, citing the coast guard chief in the southern province of Hormozgan.
Iran, which has some of the cheapest fuel rates in the world owing to heavy state subsidies and a drop in its currency, has been fighting widespread land-based fuel smuggling to neighboring nations and Gulf Arab states by sea.
Dehaki said the group was suspected of running a fuel-smuggling ring and the seized shipment was intercepted in the Hormuz Strait near Sirik country.
The seizure arises in the midst of tensions in the Gulf following the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from a nuclear agreement that puts curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. It has often captured ships in the Gulf that it claims are used to smuggle oil.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran arrested a “foreign tanker” for alleged smuggling of contraband oil in Gulf waters on July 14.
Maritime monitoring service TankerTrackers revealed that the Panamanian-flagged MT Riah, used in the strait for fueling other ships, had gone into Iranian waters and stopped sending signals at that stage.
The Guards imposed on 19 July the British-flagged Stena Impero tanker in the Strait of Hormuz for violating “global naval regulations” in the most prominent seizure.
Iran also captured another vessel with seven overseas crews on board for oil smuggling on July 31, but it did not reveal the identity of the vessel or the nationality of its crew.Share on