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Marines Lead in Anti-Smuggling Effort
EFL AP from Newsday
Speedboats full of U.S. Marines pull up alongside a large freighter. Clambering aboard the Iraqi-flagged ship, they check the paperwork, look for suspicious oil stains and investigate whether the cargo is illegal.
Not sure that looking for stains will be productive but I like the rest of the strategy.
The Marines are part of a major coalition operation to combat the widespread smuggling of oil and other commodities, including copper, from Iraq. Officials estimate that more than 587,800 gallons of oil alone, the equivalent of 65 tanker trucks, were being smuggled daily out of the southern port of Umm Qasr before the anti-smuggling operation began two weeks ago. "The smugglers are stealing oil from the Iraqi people. One of the keys to rebuilding infrastructure is capitalizing on oil resources. Stealing the oil takes away that opportunity," spokesman Capt. Bill Pelletier said. The campaign, dubbed Operation Sweeney, pulls together British, Iraqi and American forces to conduct the land, air and sea operations. Some 2,000 Marines and sailors, from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit based in Camp Pendleton, Calif., joined the campaign a week ago. In recent days, coalition forces have recovered 24 oil barges, 15 empty barges, 10 land-based fuel pumps, eight oil boats and 50 vehicles. The smuggling methods are fairly basic but very effective, said Maj. Gordon Mackenzie, spokesman for the British troops, who are leading a multinational command in southern Iraq. Smugglers will break into the oil pipelines, focusing mainly on the southern Rumeila oil fields, with sledgehammers, grenades or assault rifles, he said.
Can somebody buy these guys a hole saw?
The crude oil that bubbles out is loaded up into tanker trucks, with the remainder oozing out into giant black pools dotting the desert, Mackenzie said.
They’re eco-terrorists to boot.
The oil is transferred down to the port and loaded onto barges. The barges then troll the waterways looking for buyers among the freighters, Mackenzie said.
No it is not stolen oil. I run a Jiffy Lube in Basra. This is from oil changes.
"It’s organized crime, but it’s not so sophisticated," he said. "That’s part of what makes it difficult to track." A week ago, coalition forces seized more than 529,000 gallons of smuggled Iraqi oil in a joint operation of the British Royal Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, The oil, found aboard the Guinean flagged vessel MV Marwan, was among the largest finds for coalition forces trying to stop smuggling operations. Two weeks ago, at least 10 boats were being held in a "smuggler box," a site for ships found smuggling contraband oil from Iraq, although some have been released.
Don’t release the clowns. That’s weak. Auction off their stuff.
The joint operation is expected to intensify in the next few days. Checkpoints along the highways are being set up by Iraqi police to search all tanker trucks. The British provide much of the intelligence, giving lists to the Americans of suspected vessels.
Please teach us how to do the intelligence portion sometime.
It's probably a split mission, with them covering some activities and us covering others...
Under an order issued Aug. 31 by the coalition, the Iraqi judiciary system is free to begin investigating those caught smuggling and return the wealth to Iraq. Last month, for the first time, an Iraqi judge was escorted to vessels being held on suspicion of smuggling Iraqi oil and conducted administrative hearings on six of them.
Iraqis taking part = good news.
But it’s the Marines who are doing the daily patrols, boarding and intercepting suspicious vessels in Umm Qasr port. On a recent patrol, five small, black-rubber speedboats with a half-dozen armed Marines in each, sped down the Shatt al-Arab waterway that flows into the Gulf. The men hailed a freighter named the Richa Mumbai, climbing a ladder dropped off the side. They checked for proper documentation, bringing a local translator to prevent any misunderstandings.
These guys got to love this duty.
"We haven’t had a lot of resistance," said Capt. Christian Rankin, 26, of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. "We’re not here to hurt anyone. We approach with a relaxed posture. Most of the intelligence comes from locals. They’re supportive because our presence here prevents looting and other illegal activities."
I doubt that resisting marines with guns would be healthy. I guess if the ship chose not to stop, it is unlikely to outrun the frigate that is supporting the operation.
Posted by:Super Hose

#3  We really need to start doing this here in the US.
Posted by: Charles   2003-10-20 11:10:58 PM  

#2  Raptor, my impressionfrom teh article is that they are impounded ... for a while... and then let go. I would assume taht the owner is warned about the shady activities of the crew and told that there won't be a second warning.

Not what I would do, but an effective way of not getting into an international logjam.
Posted by: Super Hose   2003-10-20 8:45:46 PM  

#1  What happens to the frieghters,tankers,barges,etc?
Are they siezed and auctioned off?

The owners of these multi million $ ships start loosing them and thinks will change in a hurry.
Posted by: Raptor   2003-10-20 5:30:26 PM