Colonel Hossein Dahaki, the commander of Hormuzgan Province coastguard, said on Saturday that his forces had detained 12 Philippine nationals and their towboat, Press TV wrote.
An illegal shipment of nearly 284,000 liters of smuggled diesel fuel, worth about 323 billion rials ($2.8 million), was also confiscated as part of the operation.
The coastguard chief added that much observation and intelligence work had been done in order to identify the large-scale fuel smuggling ring.
“Smuggling, be it in any field, has destructive consequences on the country’s economy. A firm stance is required to be adopted against organized networks smuggling goods, currency and, particularly, fuel," Dahaki said.
The coastguard official added that the case would be followed up through legal procedures.
The devaluation of the Iranian rial, as a result of US sanctions on the country over the past year, has helped turn smuggling into a lucrative business across Iran’s borders.
Despite massive efforts to counter the illegal trade, the cheap prices of fuel in Iran still encourage traffickers to smuggle the product out of the country.
Gasoline is currently pumped into cars in Iran at a price of $0.09 while diesel is sold at even a lower price of $0.03. The government has considered reducing subsidies on the two types of fuel mainly to curb the illicit trade.