U.S. courts have announced that $108 million in cash and $25 million worth of oil has been seized from a global network of Iranian oil smugglers.
U.S. Justice Department Launches Legal Cases
The U.S. Justice Department initiated a potential indictment on three separate counts targeting Iran’s oil trade, revealing a network established by Iran in 2018 to evade sanctions.
Indictment Details on Oil Smuggling
One unsealed indictment accused seven defendants of selling Iranian oil to Syria and along with certain buyers in China and Russia.
Smuggling Group Revealed
The revelation accuses individuals from Turkey, Oman, Greece, and other countries of building a global network of oil smuggling designed to dodge sanctions placed by Trump.
Two More Defendants Revealed
A separate indictment prosecutes two more individuals for selling Iranian oil to companies associated with the Chinese government.
Seizures and Sanctions Unveiled
The U.S. also unveiled plans to seize over $108 million, along with 500,000 barrels of oil valued at $25 million.
Attorney General Garland’s Announcement
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the assets “would otherwise have enabled Iran to further its destabilising activities that threaten our national security.”
Global Scale Crime
To show that the criminal activity occurred on a global scale, the justice department revealed that involved offenders originated from Turkey, Iran, China, and Oman.
A National Security Threat
“What we are seeing from Iran has only sharpened our focus,” argued Assistant Attorney-General for the DoJ’s National Security Division, Matthew Olsen.
Taking Necessary Steps
Olsen said that the U.S. will continue “making sure that we take all the steps that are within our authority to protect our national security.”
Simultaneous Air Assaults
Before the cases were made public, the U.S. confirmed air assaults on over 85 targets in Iraq and Syria.
Retaliation and Message to Iran
The strikes were a response to aggression towards the U.S. forces currently deployed in Jordan that resulted in the deaths of 3 troops.
Strikes Against Houthi Targets
The U.S. also struck Houthi Rebels in the Red Sea close to Nothern Yemen in response to the Houthi’s attacks on commercial shipping vessels from the U.S. and the UK.
Senior Official’s Involvement
Behnam Shahriyari, a senior official of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force, is just one of the defendants accused.
Terrorist Support and Sanction Dodging
Shahrihyari and six others will be sent to U.S. courts for allegedly supporting a terrorist organization and dodging sanctions placed on Iran and Syria from when Trump was president.
Other Defendants Revealed
The indictment also involved the son of an Iranian commander and Minister of Petroleum and an Iranian shipping official, along with others also accused of money laundering and fraud.
Chinese Embassy’s Response
The Chinese embassy spokesperson in Washington said the embassy was “not aware of the specificic situation concerned.”
Embassy Calls for Respect
The spokesperson, Liu Pengyu, also argued that the relationship and communication between Iran and the international community is “lawful” and should be “respected.”
Justice Department’s Commitment
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said, “Today’s enforcement actions show that the Justice Department is committed to using every tool.”
Shutting Down Iranian Profits
Monaco suggested that “from criminal prosecutions to the lawful seizures of Iranian oil and oil profits,” the U.S. will continue “to shut down Iran’s pipeline of petroleum and profits.”
How Will Rebels Respond?
Despite strikes, Iran-backed Houthi Rebels say they will continue to strike American and UK shipping targets so long as the Middle-East conflict continues.
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