TEHRAN (Iran News) – Smuggled goods and currency worth 5.1 trillion rials (nearly $123 million at the official rate of 42,000 rials) have been seized across the country through the second phase of a nationwide plan to fight against smuggling goods.
Under the plan, police detectives controlled the bus fleet carrying smuggled goods for 72 hours in late May throughout the country, Mohammad Reza Moghimi, the police chief, said on Sunday.
A total of 725 cars were identified carrying over 1,669 items of smuggled goods such as basic goods, home appliances, electronic equipment, car accessories, livestock, and poultry, in addition to more than 417,000 liters of fuel and oil.
He went on to say that essential goods worth 5.1 trillion rials (nearly $123 million) have been discovered and 1,044 criminals were arrested during the implementation of the plan.
Most recently, some 2.9 trillion rials (nearly $70 million) worth of smuggled goods has been seized across the country in May.
$20-25 billion of smuggled goods annually
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 worth of goods 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.