12 Filipino tugboat crew arrested in Iran for alleged ‘fuel-smuggling’

Iran coastguard seized a boat in Tehran while 12 Filipino crewmen were arrested with it as it busted a “fuel-smuggling ring” in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, September 7, South China Morning Post wrote.

Major Hossein Dehaki said, “coastguards successfully seized a foreign ship in the Strait of Hormuz.” Dehaki is the coastguard chief in the southern province of Hormozgan.

“Twelve Philippine nationals were arrested and the relevant judiciary officials are currently taking the required legal measures,” Major Hossein Dehaki was quoted as saying in the report of  ABS-CBN.

The boat with 12 Filipino crew on board was allegedly carrying contraband fuel.  All of them were arrested though no news was released whether or not they were involved in the smuggling or they were just there as part of the crew.

Reports said that the orange and white foreign tugboat, docked at Bandar Abbas port, was confiscated as well as 283,900 litres (75,000 gallons) of petrol worth 233.71 billion rials ($20.2 million).

The group was suspected to be involved in a fuel-smuggling ring and the confiscated shipment had been intercepted close to Sirik county in the Strait of Hormuz, Dehaki said.

Relatively, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confiscated a “foreign tanker” in Gulf waters on July 14 for allegedly smuggling contraband fuel.

“With a capacity of two million liters and 12 foreign crew on board, the vessel was en route to deliver contraband fuel received from Iranian boats to foreign ships,” the Guards said at the time.

Iran also detained another ship on July 31 with seven foreign crew on board, also for fuel smuggling, but the identity of the vessel and its crew were not revealed.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it is closely monitoring the development of the case and is waiting for the Philippine Embassy in Tehran for a detailed and official report that would confirm the alleged participation in the fuel smuggling of the 12 Filipino crew.

Sources: CNN, The Manila Times, SCMP, ABS-CBN

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