MANAMA/DUBAI: A multinational naval coalition said it seized over 67 tons of drugs worth more than $189 million in operations near the Arabian Gulf in 2021, a record for the task force.
The value of the drugs seized by the Bahrain-based Combined Task Force 150 exceeded the past four years combined, said Tim Hawkins, spokesman for the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) that oversees the task force.
The haul including 6,550 kilograms of heroin, 4,052 kilograms of methamphetamine and 56,834 kilograms of hashish was all destroyed, he said.
Commander of CTF 150, Royal New Zealand Navy Captain Brendon Clark, said the drugs came from a number of countries around the region, without specifying.
“It’s all about maritime security operations ... preventing illicit activity from non-state actors in the region,” he said.
“We do that so that we can have legitimate commercial shipping, legitimate commercial fishing, can transit and operate in the region free from these non state threats.”
CTF 150 is part of the CMF naval partnership in which 34 nations patrol 3.2 million square miles of international waters. The New Zealand navy took command of CTF 150 in July.
Meanwhile, the US seized two large caches of Iranian arms, including 171 surface-to-air missiles and eight anti-tank missiles, intended for the Houthi militia in Yemen.
The US justice department on Tuesday said navy troops seized the weapons from two vessels in the Arabian Sea while conducting routine maritime security operations.
“Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization, orchestrated the arms shipments, which were destined for Houthi militants in Yemen,” the statement added.
Approximately 1.1 million barrels of Iranian petroleum products were also seized from four foreign-flagged tankers in or around the Arabian Sea while en route to Venezuela, the justice department said.
“The actions of the United States in these two cases strike a resounding blow to the Government of Iran and to the criminal networks supporting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
The seized petroleum products were sold for over $26 million, pursuant to a court order, with the proceeds directed, “in whole or in part, to the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund.”
The operation represents the US “government’s largest-ever forfeitures of fuel and weapons shipments from Iran,” the statement noted.