Monday, December 29, 2008

Coalition Warships Seize 20 Tons of Drugs in North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden

Dispatches from the Front
News from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet Combined Maritime Forces.

Dispatches from the Front:

MANAMA, Bahrain, Dec. 29, 2008 -- Coalition warships operating in the North Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden, as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 have seized more than 20 tons of narcotics since October, with an estimated value of over $100 million.

The Task Force, also tasked with conducting counter piracy operations, is part of a continual presence in the region committed to creating and maintaining a lawful maritime order and has seized more than 53 tons of narcotics during 2008. The drugs seized by U.S. and Royal Navy forces could have helped to fund the insurgency fighting Coalition forces in Afghanistan as well as contribute to instability in the region.

“The seizure of these drugs cuts off a vital lifeline of funds to those conducting destabilizing activities in the region,” said Commodore Tim Lowe, Deputy Commander, Combined Maritime Forces. “By stemming the flow of these drugs, we play a crucial role in providing security and stability to the entire region.”

Sailors from the ships discovered hidden drugs in vessels operating along the so-called ‘Hash Highway.’ During the operations, sailors destroyed large quantities of narcotics but always ensured sufficient evidence was gathered to aid in subsequent investigations by local authorities after the drug smugglers were handed over for prosecution.

“The smugglers need to know there are consequences for their actions,” said Lowe. “By aggressively patrolling these waters, we send a message to all would-be smugglers that we are here and we won’t tolerate drug trafficking in international waters.”

CTF 150 is a multinational task force that that conducts Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in and around the Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. The Task Force was created to counter terrorism, prevent smuggling and deter other destabilizing activities to develop security in the maritime environment and create a lawful maritime order.

MSO complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seeks to disrupt violent extremist use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material. Through training opportunities with regional partners, CTF 150 enhances existing cooperative relationships which aim to support regional countries’ struggles against violent extremism.

(Report from a Combined Maritime Forces Public Affairs news release.)

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