U.S. Navy Rescues Iranian Drug Smugglers

In this handout photograph from the U.S. Navy, a traditional dhow sailing vessel suspected of smuggling drugs burns in the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. The U.S. Navy said Thursday it rescued five Iranians suspected of smuggling drugs after they apparently set fire to their stash on board a traditional sailing vessel off the coast of Oman, though one remains missing. (U.S. Navy via AP)

The U.S. Navy and allied forces in the region regularly conduct anti-narcotic patrols throughout Mideast waterways. Smugglers often use dhows to transport heroin from Afghanistan and other drugs quietly through the region.

Five Iranians were not successful in delivering their drugs. They chose to set the drugs on fire. They could have lost their lives had the U.S. Navy not step in. The Navy said Thursday it rescued five Iranians suspected of smuggling drugs after they apparently set fire to their stash on board a traditional sailing vessel off the coast of Oman.

The Navy released aerial surveillance footage showing the traditional ship, known as a dhow, as it sailed in the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday. Those on board pour a liquid, likely an accelerant, over the cargo hold as the Navy approaches. Smoke then pours from the vessel after those on board apparently set the fire, with an explosion rocking the ship.

$14.7 million worth of drugs recovered.

Sailors from the patrol craft USS Sirocco later arrived, rescuing the men. Sailors also recovered over 1,745 kilograms (3,850 pounds) of hashish, 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of methamphetamine and 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of heroin.

The five Iranians rescued from the dhow received medical treatment and have been handed over to authorities in Oman, the Navy said. One additional Iranian on board the dhow remains missing.

– Ella Breedlove

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