US federal prosecutors filed suit late Wednesday to seize four tankers-worth of gasoline Iran is sailing to Venezuela, the latest salvo in the administration’s effort to stifle flows of goods and money helping to keep two of its top foes in power.

Iran PressAmerica: As Iran and Venezuela increased coordination in the face of a Trump administration which has pounded them with heavy sanctions, US federal prosecutors are seeking to seize four tankers sailing towards Venezuela with gasoline supplied by Iran, the latest attempt to disrupt ever-closer trade ties between the two heavily-sanctioned anti-US allies.

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By filing a civil forfeiture complaint, US prosecutors aim to not only prevent delivery of the Iranian fuel to Venezuela, which began the journey last month but also deprives Tehran of the revenues from the cargo and deters future shipments.

Legal sources said that the gasoline could likely only be seized by U.S. authorities if the tankers enter US territorial waters. But they said that the actions could help push other countries to cooperate in seizing the fuel.

"Gasoline shortages in Venezuela, like Iran a member of OPEC, have grown acute due to the US sanctions, and the country has undergone an economic collapse. Still, Maduro has held on, and the failure to unseat him has been a source of frustration for US President Donald Trump," some American officials have said privately.

The complaint claims that the IRGC has a 'dominant presence' in the Iranian economy, including the oil industry.

"The profits from these activities support the IRGC’s full range of nefarious activities, including the proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery, support for terrorism, and a variety of human rights abuses, at home and abroad," it reads.

It was not immediately clear whether or how the Trump administration would move to seize the gasoline. The U.S. government must prove the fuel is forfeitable under the law in a civil proceeding for it to seize it permanently.

Last month, five Iranian oil tankers set off for the Caribbean and delivered about 1.5 million barrels of gasoline to Venezuela which is under a virtual American economic siege.

Last year, the Trump administration failed to stop a tanker carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian oil, the Adrian Darya, formerly known as Grace 1, through blacklisting it and other measures.

The vessel was originally seized by the British Royal Marine commandos on suspicion being en route to Syria but was released by Gibraltar. After a warrant was issued for the Adrian Darya, Brian Hook, the State Department’s top Iran official, sent emails to its captain saying the Trump administration was offering him several million dollars to steer the tanker to a country that would impound it on behalf of Washington.

Earlier, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro praised the Iranian government for sending oil tankers saying he is scheduled to travel to Iran soon and will take part in a joint commission with officials from the two countries to sign agreements on energy, agriculture, finance, technology, science, and health.

In recent months, the United States has sought to overthrow the legitimate government of Venezuela, which has an anti-American approach, by threatening, imposing sanctions, putting pressure on Venezuela's economy. An approach that has never been successful. 212/ 207

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