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US Navy rescues Iranian drug smugglers after setting stash ablaze on ship near Oman

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The US Navy revealed on Thursday that it had 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 individual remains missing.

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Aerial surveillance footage showing the dhow as it sailed the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday was revealed by the Navy.

Smoke reportedly rose from the vessel after those on board apparently started the blaze, an explosion soon after rocked the ship.

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 Navy valued the recovered drugs as worth almost $15 million.

Sailors believe that represented only half of all the drugs on board, with the rest burning up or sinking with the vessel, said Commander Timothy Hawkins, speaking for the United States Navy's Mideast-based 5th Fleet.

The five Iranians rescued received medical treatment and have been handed over to authorities in Oman, the Navy stated. Iran has yet to acknowledge the incident as of Thursday.

The Navy and allied forces in the region conducted anti-narcotic patrols throughout waterways in the Middle East. Smugglers often use dhows to bring heroin from Afghanistan and other drugs quietly through the region.

Reports have been appearing for years via Reuters and numerous agencies signaling an increase in the activity of Iranian procurers transporting goods across the dangerous waters between Iran and Oman via “shooties” a colloquial term for these smugglers.

With the Associated Press

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