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Iran seizes two more vessels in Persian Gulf for 'fuel smuggling'

December 7, 2023 at 4:37 pm

Iran Navy naval drill on January 14, 2021 [Iranian Army/Anadolu Agency]

Iranian judicial authorities, on Thursday, announced the seizure of two vessels over alleged smuggling of fuel in the Persian Gulf, Anadolu Agency reports.

Mojtaba Ghahrami, Chief Justice of the southern Hormozgan province, said two vessels carrying 210,000 litres of “smuggled fuel” were seized in the waters of Qeshm Island, as reported by state media.

He said Iranian naval forces seized the two ships after identifying them and took 14 people on board into custody.

As soon as “smugglers” saw Iranian naval officers, Fars News Agency reported, they started to “dump some of the fuel in the sea to clear the crime scene and avoid.”

Ghahrami said the smugglers “planned to transfer the fuel to some Persian Gulf countries,” without naming the countries.

He noted that the fight against fuel smuggling is high on the list of priorities for the Iranian judiciary.

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It is not clear that the vessels belonged to which country and the nationalities of those taken into judicial custody have not been revealed.

Iranian naval forces have, on many occasions in recent years, captured foreign-flagged vessels in the waters of the Persian Gulf for alleged smuggling of fuel or violation of maritime rules.

Thursday’s incident came a day after Iran’s elite IRGC naval forces seized two vessels south of Abu Musa Island in the Persian Gulf.

The vessels were allegedly smuggling 4.5 million litres of fuel, IRGC’s public relations department said in a statement.

In September, the IRGC captured two oil tankers with Panama and Tanzania flags for allegedly smuggling 1.5 million litres of fuel in the Persian Gulf.

The 37-member crew aboard the two vessels was also handed to judicial authorities.

In July, a Bahamas-flagged oil tanker, “Richmond Voyager”, was spotted after it allegedly ran into an Iranian vessel in the Sea of ​​Oman in Hormozgan province.

The incident came less than two months after the IRGC seized a Panama-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, calling it a “violator”.

These incidents have come amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US and confrontations between the navies of the two countries in the Persian waters.

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