The Justice Department announced that it was filing a forfeiture complaint related to two large shipments of Iranian missiles in the U.S.
Navy seized that were bound for Iranian-backed militants in Yemen sent by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has been designated a foreign terrorist group by the United States.
The agency simultaneously announced the court-approved sale of 1.1 million barrels of Iranian petroleum that the U.S. seized from four foreign-flagged oil tankers in transit to Venezuela from the IRGC in defiance of U.S. sanctions, with the U.S. intending to take the proceeds from the fuel sales and provide them to the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund.
The Justice Department called these moves “the government’s largest-ever forfeitures actions for fuel and weapons shipments from Iran.”
U.S. Navy Central Command seized the weapons from two flagless ships in the Arabian Sea in November 2019 and February 2020, including “171 guided anti-tank missiles, eight surface-to-air missiles, land-attack cruise missile components, anti-ship cruise missile components, thermal weapons optics, and other components for missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.”
The DOJ said the recently unsealed 20-page forfeiture action “is part of a larger investigation of an Iranian weapons smuggling network … involved in the illicit trafficking of advanced conventional weapons systems and components, including systems that contain U.S.-origin components, by sanctioned Iranian entities that directly support military action by the Houthis movement in Yemen and the Iranian regime’s campaign of terrorist activities throughout the region.”