US seeks to seize gasoline in Iran tankers bound for Venezuela

US prosecutors have filed a lawsuit to seize the gasoline aboard four tankers that Iran is shipping to Venezuela.

John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division; Michael R. Sherwin, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; Steven W. Cagen, Special Agent in Charge, Denver, Colorado, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Rainer S. Drolshagen, Special Agent in Charge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Federal Bureau of Investigation, made the announcement today.

The suit alleged that all petroleum-product cargo aboard the Bella with the international maritime organization (IMO) number 9208124, the Bering with IMO number 9149225, the Pandi with IMO number 9105073, and the Luna with IMO number 9208100 are subject to forfeiture based on the terrorism forfeiture statute.

The documents alleged a scheme involving multiple parties affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to covertly ship Iranian gasoil, obtained via ship-to-ship transfers, to Venezuela.

The shipments are alleged to be a “source of influence” for the IRGC, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The documents alleged that profits from petroleum sales support the IRGC’s full range of nefarious activities, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, support for terrorism, and a variety of human rights abuses, at home and abroad.

There are approximately 302,502 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently onboard the Bella, approximately 302,522 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently onboard the Bering, approximately 259,700 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently onboard the Luna, and approximately 298,484 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently onboard the Pandi.

United States District Judge James E. Boasberg, however, issued a warrant to seize all Iranian gasoline on these four vessels, based on a probable cause showing of forfeitability.

The warrant commands the property to be brought to the sole jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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