US naval vessels seized 849 pounds of heroin in the Arabian Sea, valued at approximately $ 4 million.
The USS Tempest and USS Typhoon seized the drugs hidden on board a stateless fishing vessel in Middle Eastern waters, the international task force said in a statement. The seizure took place on Monday.
The Navy said the fishing vessel was likely from Iran. All nine crew members identified themselves as Iranian nationals, according to Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the US Navy 5th Fleet based in the Middle East.
He didn’t elaborate on who made the drugs or where they ended up going.
While the task force is stepping up regional patrols, it has seized over $ 193 million worth of illicit drugs from operations at sea this year – more than the amount of drugs confiscated in the past four years combined, it said their explanation.
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According to last year’s UN Global Synthetic Drugs Assessment, heroin is smuggled overland from Iran and Afghanistan via well-trodden land routes in the Balkans, the South Caucasus or Saudi Arabia to the Middle East and even Europe.
Smugglers from Iran are increasingly embarking at sea to bring heroin to South Asia, the report added, with Iranian and Pakistani seafarers often arrested near Sri Lanka.
Iran’s permeable, 2,400-kilometer eastern border with Afghanistan, the world’s largest opium producer, has made it an important transit country for the illegal drug trade.