A U.S. Coast Guard cutter seized millions of dollars in illegal drugs this week in the Gulf of Oman, the latest in a string of maritime drug busts in the Middle East that have netted more than $1 billion worth of narcotics since 2021, officials said.
USCGC Emlen Tunnell was patrolling in international waters Monday when it seized hashish and methamphetamine worth an estimated $33 million from a fishing vessel, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet said in a statement Tuesday.
The bust was the first in 2023 for Combined Maritime Forces, a 38-member multinational task force focused on countering smuggling, piracy and other illegal operations, according to the statement.
The cutter was operating as part of Combined Task Force 150, one of four CMF task forces.
Over the previous six months, CTF 150 ships have logged more than 10,000 hours on regional patrols and intercepted six shipments of illegal drugs — including opium, heroin, hashish and meth — worth more than $250 million, according to the Navy.
Earlier this month, three U.S. Navy ships seized more than 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles from a fishing vessel, also in international waters in the Gulf of Oman along a maritime route from Iran to Yemen.