TEHRAN – Iranian forces have seized a Philippine tanker in the Persian Gulf and taken its crew into custody on charges of smuggling fuel.
On Saturday, Colonel Hossein Dahaki, the commander of Hormozgan Province coastguard, said his forces had detained 12 Filipino nationals and their towboat, dismantling their smuggling team, IRNA reported.
Nearly 284,000 liters of diesel fuel, worth about 323 billion rials ($2.8 million), was confiscated as part of the operation, according to the local authority.
The coastguard chief said intelligence work had been done in order to identify the large-scale fuel smuggling ring.
“Smuggling, be it in any field, has destructive consequences on the country’s economy and it requires a firm stance against organized networks smuggling goods, currency and especially fuel,” Dahaki stated.
The coastguard official added that the case would be followed up through legal procedures.
Subsidized fuel coupled with devaluation of the Iranian rial as a result of U.S. sanctions over the past year have helped form a lucrative smuggling business across Iran’s borders.
Despite massive efforts to counter the illegal trade, the cheap prices of fuel in Iran still encourage traffickers to siphon it out of the country.
Gasoline is currently pumped into cars in Iran at a price of $0.09 while diesel is sold at even a lower price of $0.03. The government has considered reducing subsidies on the two types of fuel mainly to curb the illicit trade.
Source; tehrantimes News Agency