A U.S. Navy destroyer and a Coast Guard cutter operating in the Gulf of Oman seized close to $100 million worth of hashish and heroin from two separate vessels Tuesday and Wednesday, according to statements from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
The destroyer Delbert D. Black intercepted a fishing vessel that was transporting $10 million worth of hashish in international waters, according to the statement. The destroyer is supporting operations in U.S. 5th Fleet and began patrolling waters in the Middle East in August.
“This seizure is a testament to the professionalism and determination of the ‘Trailblazer’ team,” Cmdr. Mark Gallagher, commanding officer of Delbert D. Black, said in the statement. “I’m proud of our commitment to regional security and countering illicit activity on the high seas across the Middle East region.”
Black’s seizure came just a day after U.S. Coast Guard cutter Charles Moulthrope intercepted more than 2,000 kilograms of heroin on Tuesday. According to NAVCENT, the Charles Moulthrope was operating as a part of the Combined Maritime Forces, the largest multinational naval partnership.
According to NAVCENT, the heroin was worth more than $85 million. Over the course of the year, CMF has intercepted 13 vessels, resulting in more than $300 million worth of heroin, hashish and amphetamines.
Last year, after increasing patrols in the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea, NAVCENT and CMF seized record amounts of illicit drugs and weapons, totaling $193 million. That sum was larger than the previous four years combined.
“We have enhanced our presence and vigilance across regional waters,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper said in a January news release. “This reflects our continued commitment to confront destabilizing activities that disrupt the rules-based international order which underlies maritime security in the Middle East.”
Zamone “Z” Perez is an editorial fellow at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa, where he helped produce podcasts. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched humanitarian intervention and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.