Smuggled goods worth $70m confiscated

May 10, 2021 - 16:22

TEHRAN – Some 2.9 trillion rials (nearly $70 million at the official rate of 42,000 rials) worth of smuggled goods have been seized across the country.

The first phase of a nationwide plan to intensify the fight against smuggling goods was implemented across the country last week, Mohammad Reza Moghimi, the police chief, said on Monday.

Under the plan, police detectives identified the location of the depot through round-the-clock efforts and specialized actions, he explained.

He went on to say that essential goods worth 2.9 trillion rials (nearly $70 million) have been discovered and 1,152 criminals and 690 vehicles were arrested during the implementation of the plan.

The discovered goods were handed over to the Organization for Collection and Sale of State-owned Properties of Iran, and the smugglers were arrested and handed over to the judicial authorities, he explained.

President Hassan Rouhani has urged a systematic fight against smuggling “from the start to the endpoint”, citing the fight as a key factor in improving Iran’s economy in July 2019.

Rouhani said while Iran is under sanctions, extra care should be given to stopping the smuggling of “hard-won” currency.

Every year, $20-25 billion are smuggled in and out of the country, which, if stopped, will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, Hassan Norouzi, a member of the Parliament, said.

In the Iranian calendar year 1396 (March 2017-March 2018), $12 billion was smuggled into Iran and $900 million out of the country, according to the Headquarters for Combating the Smuggling of Commodities and Foreign Exchange.

According to some reports, over ten million liters of gasoline are smuggled out of Iran on a daily basis, adding up to 3.65 billion liters every year. Other reports put the number higher. On December 19, 2018, a government spokesman said every day 11.5 million liters of gasoline are smuggled out of Iran. Ali Adyani, a member of the Iranian Parliament's Energy Committee has quoted various sources as putting the figure at 10, 15, and even 20 million liters a day.

Mohammad Hassan Nejad, another member of the committee, says the smuggled fuel amounts to 22 million liters per day. With a 50 cent per liter profit, the total daily income adds up to 400 trillion rials annually or $3.3 billion, nearly the same as the country's annual development budget.

In addition to gasoline smuggling, other fuels such as kerosene and diesel are also smuggled; not in lesser quantities.

In June 2020, the first phase of the national anti-smuggling plan has been implemented with the priority of customs, tobacco, and transit goods nationwide.

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