Drug smugglers burning $30mn stash rescued mid-sea — Analysis
The US Navy handed over a group of Iranians accused of trafficking heroin, hashish and other drugs from Oman to the authorities. They claim they saved the victims from their burning ship.
Large plumes of smoke, apparently with a strong smokiness of hashish, were visible rising from the Gulf of Oman’s waters on Wednesday. After they saw a US Navy ship approaching, it is believed that the suspected smugglers set fire to their ship. The US 5th Fleet reported that this was after the suspects were alerted.
An aerial surveillance video captured crew members of a traditional ship known as a dhow pouring liquid over cargo. A massive explosion erupted, and heavy smoke was released.
The ship was discovered by the US Navy while it was on an anti-narcotics mission in the vicinity. On the burned vessel were over 1,745kg (3,847lbs) of hashish and 500kg methamphetamine. 30kg of heroin was also found.
What remained was valued by the Navy at $14.7million. According to the spokesperson of the US fleet, this was just half the original cargo the dhow carried, while the remainder had burned or been lost.
The sailors rescued five injured Iranian men, one of whom remains missing from the boat. The suspected smugglers have been treated and handed to Omani authorities.