Iran's military has seized a foreign-flagged tanker on suspicion of illegal smuggling operations, state media announced Monday.
While the tanker or flag it is flying under hasn't been identified by Tehran authorities, it was said to be carrying 2.9 million gallons of "smuggled fuel" - worth an estimated $6.6 million, according to a statement of an Iranian official.
The country's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) boarded and took control of the vessel in the Persian Gulf. Tehran has long complained about and tried to crackdown on what it has described as persistent smuggling of its oil and fuel to Gulf states.
"The captain and crew of this foreign tanker are also detained as investigations and legal procedures are being completed," Iran's judiciary chief of the southern province of Hormozgan, Mojtaba Ghahremani, said in a video address.
"All vessels which have delivered fuel to the violating tanker will also be subject to prosecution," Ghahremani added.
State media showed a clip of the seized vessel with IRGC operatives approaching it. This practice of intercepting foreign vessels in the vital Strait of Hormuz waterway has put Iran's navy on a crash course with the US military presence in the region. Of late, the IRGC has sought to seize US sea drones in the region.
WATCH: #BNNIran Reports.— Gurbaksh Singh Chahal (@gchahal) October 31, 2022
Mojtaba Ghahremani, the judiciary chief for Hormozgan province in Iran said, “The navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has seized a foreign tanker carrying 11 million liters of smuggled fuel.” #Iran #Crime pic.twitter.com/jR4dXuGrto
Interestingly, Iran is further alleging that smugglers seek to steal national assets with the help of foreigners.
"The criminal acts by fuel smugglers who plunder national assets in coordination with foreigners will not be hidden from the sight of Judiciary officials and officers, and the perpetrators of such crimes will be punished severely and without leniency," Ghahremani said additionally in his statement, according to PressTV.