Foreign-flagged oil tanker “Bella” carrying Iranian cargo bound for Venezuela.

Department of Justice

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department stated Friday that federal agents seized a multimillion-dollar Iranian fuel shipment bound for Venezuela, in what it described because the largest-ever seizure of its type.

The U.S., with the help of overseas companions, confiscated a complete of 1.1 million barrels of petroleum from 4 foreign-flagged oil tankers, as Tehran and Caracas try to sidestep U.S. sanctions.

According to the Justice Department, after the seizure, “Iran’s navy forcibly boarded an unrelated ship in an apparent attempt to recover the seized petroleum but was unsuccessful.”

Footage released by Central Command, the U.S. navy’s combatant command that oversees the wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, exhibits the failed Iranian operation.

“We are seeing more and more global shipping fleets avoiding the Iran-Venezuela trade due to our sanctions implementation and enforcement efforts,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus wrote in a press release. “The United States remains committed to our maximum pressure campaigns against the Iranian and Maduro regimes,” she added.

In June, five Iranian oil tankers brought approximately 1.5 million barrels to gas-starved Venezuela, which was as soon as a outstanding fuel exporter. Gasoline is scarce within the South American nation because of a near-complete breakdown of the OPEC nation’s 1.three million barrel-per-day refining community.

The two OPEC nations have beforehand helped one another within the face of U.S. sanctions. In 2010-2011, Venezuela’s state-run oil firm, PDVSA, despatched fuel to Iran, which was focused by sanctions geared toward stifling its nuclear weapons program.

Venezuela — as soon as the crown jewel of Latin America’s growing economic system — has hit dire straits in recent times.

The worth of oil, the nation’s largest export, has plummeted greater than 60% since Nicolas Maduro succeeded dictator Hugo Chavez as Venezuela’s president in 2013. Earlier this 12 months, U.S. crude costs briefly traded in unfavorable territory for the primary time ever because the coronavirus dented the worldwide financial development outlook.

The drop in oil costs coupled with a large depreciation of the Venezuelan bolivar and sky-high inflation have left Venezuela scrambling for money, meals, drugs and different necessities.

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.