U.S. Coast Guard Seizes $11M Worth of Cocaine, Heroin and Meth

The cutter Tunnell with a seized batch of narcotics
Courtesy USCG

Published Jan 8, 2024 8:31 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard has made its first drug bust of the year in the Gulf of Oman, capturing a mixed batch of narcotics worth $11 million. 

Early this month, the international Combined Maritime Forces CTF 150 task force identified a dhow transiting the Gulf of Oman as a vessel of interest. The Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster tracked the dhow and gathered intelligence on its movements. Lancaster’s crew shared the dhow’s location with the crew of the cutter USCGC Emlen Tunnell, which moved to intercept. 

On January 5, the Emlen Tunnell interdicted the dhow and conducted a search. The crew found 37 kilograms of heroin, 187 kilograms of methamphetamine and five kilograms of cocaine stored away in the vessel’s compartments. The boarding team seized the drugs and allowed the dhow to continue on its voyage. 

The intercept demonstrated the partnership model that has yielded results for drug interdiction operations in the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea. Since French forces took over leadership of the operation in mid-2023, CTF-150 has seized 12 different cargoes of drugs. 

Though CMF also has coverage in the Red Sea with task force CTF-153, it has not take a full-fledged role in securing the sea lanes against Houthi rebels. A separate initiative organized by the United States and housed under CTF-153 has provided air defense coverage for shipping transiting the Red Sea.