Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

The United States confiscated tankers allegedly consisting of Iranian fuel in violation of sanctions, reported The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, citing U.S. officials.

U.S. federal prosecutors filed a civil forfeiture complaint to confiscate four tankers at sea—LunaPandiBering and Bella—consisting of Iranian oil on their way to Venezuela, in an apparent attempt to circumvent sanctions.

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The four vessels are on their way to Houston, reported The Wall Street Journal, writing that “senior administration officials are expected to meet the tankers at an event scheduled to mark the docking.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Zia Faruqui filed the complaint.

In it, he said that proceeds from oil sales through Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps support its “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.”

The administration hopes the seizures will deter shipping companies from dealing with Iran and Venezuela, said senior U.S. officials. Iran and Venezuela have increasingly been relying on the private sector and/or illegal markets to carry oil and energy products, wrote the paper.

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