Guided-missile destroyer Momsen and a US Coast Guard team seized about $39 million worth of methamphetamine in the Gulf of Oman this week.
Momson was patrolling international waters on May 15–16, when a US Coast Guard team began flag verification boarding of a fishing vessel. The destroyer was operating under Joint Task Force 150, which is part of the Joint Marine Forces that is led by the US and includes 34 nations. CTF-150 is one of four task forces now working in the Middle East to counter maritime threats.
“The ship was intercepted while crossing international waterways as well as a route historically used by criminal organizations to smuggle people, weapons, narcotics and charcoal,” the Navy said in a news release. ” “As soon as Momsen approached the crew members attempted to discard over 60 bales of confiscated drugs.”
The Navy said the nine crew members of the fishing vessel, who it said were Iranian nationals, are headed to a “territorial nation for repatriation” while illegal drugs and the vessel are still in US custody.
The Navy last year intensified the seizure of weapons and illegal drugs in the US Fifth Fleet. According to the service, the US Navy and partner forces seized illicit drugs worth more than $193 million in the 5th Fleet last year. This is the total value more than the amount forfeited in the last four years combined.
CMD. US Naval Forces Central Command spokesman Tim Hawkins told the Navy Times that the previous record for the total value of drugs confiscated over the past seven years was $70 million in 2018. This increase is attributed to additional presence in the region.
“We have increased our presence and vigil in territorial waters,” Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, NAVCENT, commander of the US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said in a news release in January. “This reflects our continued commitment to combating destabilizing activities that disrupt the rules-based international order that underpins maritime security in the Middle East.”
Combined Task Force 150 has seized $130 million worth of heroin, methamphetamine, amphetamine pills and hashish this year.