International naval forces operating in the Gulf of Aden seized and destroyed about 10 tons of narcotics Tuesday in international waters that military officials have dubbed the "Hash Highway," the U.S. Navy said in a statement released Thursday.
The destruction of the narcotics, mostly hash and estimated as worth nearly $70 million, was the largest seizure of drugs this year, said Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet.
The seizure cuts off a money supply that possibly funds insurgent efforts in Afghanistan, Navy officials said.
"The seizure of these drugs takes money out of the hands of those financing terrorists in the region," Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of Combined Maritime Forces, said in the statement. "The smugglers need to know that Coalition forces are patrolling the seas and skies above. These efforts send a message to all would-be smugglers that we are here and we won’t tolerate drug trafficking in international waters."
On Tuesday, a U.S. Navy P-3 surveillance aircraft and a British warship spotted and tracked a large dhow sailing about 150 miles southeast of Salalah, Oman, the release stated.
Christensen would not say what piqued the coalition force’s interest to tail and then board the vessel.
Crewmembers from a British ship boarded the dhow and found and destroyed the narcotics and paraphernalia "that further enable their drug trafficking," Christensen said, declining to provide further details.
The dhow and its crew were released after troops destroyed the narcotics, he said.
"Disruption and destruction of the drugs was deemed more important than holding the folks accountable," he said.
He declined to provide information such as how many crewmembers were aboard the dhow or their nationality.