U.S. detains smugglers and Britain seizes drugs in Middle Eastern waters

Dubai, United Arab Emirates-The US Navy announced on Sunday that it had seized a boat in the Gulf of Oman carrying fertilizer used to smuggle weapons into Yemen and produce captured explosives last year. The Royal Navy said it had confiscated 1,041 kilograms (2,295 pounds) of illegal drugs in the same area.

This blockage was the latest in the volatile waters of the Persian Gulf, as US and British authorities stepped up the seizure of smuggled goods during the terrible conflict in Yemen and the ongoing drug trafficking in the region.

The U.S. Navy’s Middle East-based Fifth Fleet searched for a nonnational fishing vessel sailing on a maritime weapons smuggling route from Iran to the war-torn Yemen, where the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole and patrol boats were anchored. Said. Tuesday. The U.S. military has discovered that it hides 40 tonnes of urea fertilizer on board, which is known to be an important component of homemade improvised explosive devices.

Officials said the ship had previously been confiscated off the coast of Somalia and was loaded with weapons such as thousands of assault rifles and rocket launchers last year. UN experts say weapons with such technical features are likely to come from Iran to support the Houthi rebels. The Navy handed over ships, cargo and Yemeni crew to the Yemeni Coast Guard earlier this week.

Yemen is flooded with small weapons that have been smuggled into poorly controlled ports in the country over many years of conflict. Since 2015, Iran-backed Houthi rebels have fought a Saudi-led military coalition to rule the country. Iran says it politically supports rebels, but denies their armament, despite evidence of opposition.

The smuggled weapons helped the Houthi gain an edge over the Saudi-led coalition in the Seven Years’ War. Violence has escalated dramatically in the past week as international attempts to mediate peace have stalled. In the United Arab Emirates, following a deadly drone attack by rebels against Abu Dhabi, Saudi fighters attacked rebel-controlled northern Sada province, attacked prisons, and detained more than 80 people. Killed a person.

Officials also revealed that a British Navy vessel seized a large amount of illegal drugs worth about $ 26 million from a boat sailing in the Gulf of Oman on January 15.

The HMS Montrose confiscated 663 kilograms (1,461 pounds) of heroin, 87 kilograms (191 pounds) of methamphetamine, and 291 kilograms (641 pounds) of hashish and marijuana, the Joint Maritime Task Force said in a statement.

The Task Force did not elaborate on where the drugs came from, who made them, or their final destination. However, over the last decade, Iran has experienced an explosive increase in the use of methamphetamine, locally known as “shiche” or “glass” in Persian, and has leaked to neighboring countries.

By Isabel Debre

Associated Press