US seizure of Iran fuel bound for Venezuela was largest confiscation of its kind ever, DOJ confirms
Trump’s maximum pressure campaign on Iran isn’t working, experts say
Congressional Republicans are set to unveil another sanctions package against the regime as the International Atomic Energy Agency warns Iran is continuing to enrich uranium; Trey Yingst reports.
The Justice Department (DOJ) on Friday announced the U.S. government’s “largest-ever” seizure of fuel shipments from Iran in a successful disruption of a multimillion-dollar shipment by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a designated foreign terrorist organization, that was bound for Venezuela.
The Justice Department on Friday said it has “successfully executed” the seizure order and confiscated the cargo from all four vessels, which totaled approximately 1.116 million barrels of petroleum.
The Justice Department credited the success to the U.S. government but also the assistance of foreign partners in seizing the property.
Earlier this month, federal investigators obtained warrants to seize Iranian oil products aboard four tankers bound for Venezuela in violation of U.S. sanctions.
FBI and Homeland Security investigators found that the cargo vessels, the Bella, the Bering, the Pandi and the Luna, are assets of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, according to a criminal complaint.
The seizure order for the cargo from all four vessels was then issued by U.S. Judge Jeb Boasberg of the District Court for the District of Columbia.
Profits from the shipments are allegedly intended to support terrorism and a “full range of nefarious activities,” ranging from buying weapons of mass destruction to funding human rights abuses. The four ships are carrying a combined total of more than a million barrels of Iranian gasoline.
After the order, earlier this month the Justice Department said Iran’s navy forcibly boarded an unrelated ship in an apparent attempt to recover the seized petroleum but was unsuccessful.
U.S. Central Command on Thursday posted a video showing Iranian forces attempting to seize the petroleum.
'Today in international waters, Iranian forces, including two ships and an Iranian "Sea King" helicopter, overtook and boarded a ship called the 'Wila,'' U.S. Central Command said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, last month Iran’s government said it issued an arrest warrant for President Trump in connection with a missile strike that killed IRGC Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January.
U.S. officials called the move a “propaganda stunt that no one takes seriously.”
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Soleimani played a role in the deaths of 608 American troops during the Iraq war, according to the State Department. He was the leader of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force, an intelligence branch and designated terrorist group.
For months, the Trump administration has throttled up pressure on the maritime shipping industry to adhere to US sanctions against Iran, Venezuela and North Korea. The Department of Treasury has also cracked down on companies violating them.
Fox News' Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.
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