DOJ Warrant and Complaint Seek Seizure of All Iranian Petroleum Products Aboard Four Tankers Headed to Venezuela

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A forfeiture complaint and warrant were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that all petroleum-product cargo aboard four ships are subject to forfeiture based on the terrorism forfeiture statute.

The documents name the “Bella” with 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 and demand forfeiture of all Iranian gasoline aboard them.

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The documents allege 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 allege 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 on board the Bella, approximately 302,522 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently on board the Bering, approximately 259,700 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently on board the Luna, and approximately 298,484 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently on board the Pandi.  United States District Judge James E. Boasberg 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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