USCG Cutters Seize $24.5M in Drugs as Part of Efforts in Gulf of Oman

drug seizure
CMF 150 conducted a focus operation that included seizures of narcotics in the Gulf of Oman (CMF 150)

Published Dec 29, 2023 4:51 PM by The Maritime Executive


Two newest U.S. Coast Guard fast response cutters, which were assigned in the past year to the Combined Maritime Forces headquartered in Bahrain have contributed to the intensifying war against narcotics in the Middle East. The cutters are closing out 2023 with two additional seizures, which the command estimated at a total street value of $24.5 million.

In two separate seizures in a span of three days, USCGC Clarence Sutphin and USCG John Scheuerman, both of which were commissioned last year and deployed to the Middle East, conducted new interventions after they spotted dhows acting suspiciously and in a manner consistent with illicit drug trafficking. 

The Combined Maritime Forces reported that the first seizure occurred on December 24 when a team from the Clarence Sutphin Jr. patrolling under the command of Combined Task Force 150 observed and boarded a dhow in the Gulf of Oman. Aboard, the crew discovered 90 kilograms of heroin with an estimated street value of $3.2 million. After testing and seizing the narcotics, the team disembarked the dhow, allowing it to continue on its journey.

Two days later a team from John Scheuerman boarded another dhow after it also displayed several indicators consistent with illicit drug trafficking. Aboard, the team discovered 261 kilograms of methamphetamines, 2,936 kilograms of hashish, 142 kilograms of heroin, and 75,000 pills with the potential to be abused as opium substitutes. The command estimated the total street value of the seizure at more than $21.3 million. The team released the dhow’s crew and disposed of the illicit drugs.


Recent seizure displayed on the deck of the Scheuerman (CMF 150)


The two USCG Sentinel-class cutters measuring 154 feet (47 meters) with a flank speed of 28 knots have proved to be critical assets in disrupting the activities of drug cartels and traffickers to move weapons or drugs or engage in other illicit activities in the Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean.

The Scheuerman was commissioned in February last year as the 46th Sentinel-class fast response cutter and the fifth of six fast response cutters assigned to the Middle East mission. Her sister ship Sutphin was commissioned in April.

These two interdictions were the 10th and 11th times the Combined Task Force 150 assets have seized illegal narcotics at sea since France took command in July this year. French commanders launched Focused Operation Charras to increase understanding of the operation region and working together with members from Canada, France, India, Pakistan, and the U.S. focused efforts on counteracting the flow of illegal narcotics and stopping production in the Indian Ocean region. 

Between late November and mid-December during the operation, they seized a total of 174 kilograms of heroin in an interdiction by the USCG Glenn Harris, another of the fast response cutters in the command. In previous operations, CTF ships seized more than 5,933 kilograms of methamphetamine, heroin, and hashish.

Since 2021, units have seized more than $1 billion in illegal drugs while patrolling waters across the Middle East.