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U.S. Navy confiscates large amount of heroin in the Middle East worth up to $4 million

Navy vessels in the Arabian Sea conducted a major drug bust, stopping trade operations.

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United States Navy officials released information on Thursday about a recent heroin operation in the Middle East that was disrupted.

Two Navy vessels, the USS Typhoon and the USS Tempest, conducted a bust on Monday, Dec. 27, finding the illicit drugs on a fishing boat they described as “stateless.” They seized 385 kilograms of heroin that was worth about $4 million.

Once found, all the heroin was destroyed at sea, the Navy said. 

The operation was part of efforts from the Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, an international task force for maritime activity. CTF 150 regularly patrols the Arabian Gulf to stop illegal drug trades, maintain safe borders, and secure safe transit of goods.

In 2021 alone, the CTF 150 has disrupted drug trades worth over $193 million, which they confirmed is more than previous operations in four years combined.

Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, of the U.S. Navy's Mideast-based 5th Fleet, told the Associated Press that the fishing boat is believed to have come from Iran. But he could not confirm who sent the drugs.

The vessel contained a crew of nine Iranians, and the U.S. Navy seeks to learn more about where the delivery was going.

“We were able to execute this interdiction safely and with precision due to the tireless efforts of all involved,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matt Intoccia, commanding officer of Tempest and a native of Collegeville, PA.

Opioid Overdoses

Drug addiction remains a top crisis in the U.S. as the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated up to 50,000 overdose deaths in 2019.

During the pandemic, large drug trades have attempted to slip under the radar creating a global crisis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published Thursday that 91,799 deaths happened due to opioid overdose in 2020.

Over a span of one year, the U.S. saw an increase of more than 41,000 people who died of drug use, as the pandemic has brought greater depression and poverty.

On April 23, 2021, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) broke the record for most seized opioids in back-to-back operations totaling 2,835 lbs of heroin.

Philadelphia knows the dangers of opioid misuse all too well, as the city saw 1,214 overdose deaths in 2020. Drug use overall has only doubled in the last decade. 

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