Muscat – A US Coast Guard vessel seized illegal drugs worth a total estimated US street value of US$33mn from a fishing vessel transiting international waters in the Sea of Oman on Monday.
US Coast Guard cutter USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) was patrolling regional waters in support of the Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 when it seized 4,000kg of hashish and 512kg of methamphetamine from the smuggling vessel.
Currently led by the United Kingdom Royal Navy, CTF 150 is one of four task forces organised under the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). This was the first drug seizure for CMF in 2023.
“This is just the beginning of our work in delivering maritime security operations in the region to stop illicit activities and drug smuggling,” said UK Royal Navy Capt James Byron, Commander of CTF 150. “This comes as a result of a valued partnership between CTF 150 and all partner nations in CMF.”
Capt Byron assumed command of the multinational task force on January 18 after Royal Saudi Navy Rear Adm Abdullah al Mutairi led the unit for six months.
Under Rear Adm Mutairi’s leadership, CTF 150 ships logged more than 10,000 hours on regional patrols and intercepted six shipments of illegal drugs that included opium, heroin, hashish and amphetamines. The combined estimated value of the seized drugs totalled more than US$250mn.
Since 2021, CMF has interdicted US$1bn worth of illicit narcotics during maritime patrols.
CMF is a multi-national collective of 34 like-minded nations, dedicated to promoting security and free flow of commerce across 3.2mn sqm of international waters in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin, the Indian Ocean and the Gulf.
CMF’s main focus areas are disrupting terrorism, preventing piracy, reducing illegal activities, and promoting a safe maritime environment for all.