Navy warship catches suspected drug smugglers dumping contraband in Mediterranean
NAPLES, Italy — A U.S. Navy warship headed to the Middle East caught three suspected drug smugglers dumping their cargo into the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday night.
Navy officials said they turned over the suspects and recovered drugs to Moroccan authorities early Wednesday morning, according to a news release.
An SH-60B Seahawk helicopter from the fast frigate USS Elrod was conducting routine flight operations when the crew spotted three individuals in an inflatable motor boat tossing several bundles overboard.
The Seahawk radioed the information back to USS Elrod, which proceeded to change course and head for the boat. The three suspects surrendered to a seven-man search-and-seizure crew. No shots were fired, and nobody was injured in the incident, according to Lt. Patrick Foughty, a spokesman for Naval Forces Europe-6th Fleet.
A search-and-rescue swimmer recovered several bundles floating in the water that had been tossed overboard. In all 300 pounds of contraband were recovered, Foughty said. The contents of two bundles tested positive for narcotics, but the preliminary test did not indicate the type of drug, Foughty said.
The boat was in international waters off the coast of Morocco when it was caught, according to the Navy statement. Both the boat and suspects were from Morocco.
USS Elrod, homeported in Norfolk, Va., is headed to the Middle East for a scheduled deployment.