Maritime Boat Patrols Seize Drugs at Sea, Let Traffickers Go

By Brent McCluskey 09/19/14

The international Combined Maritime Forces lacks the legal authority to arrest drug smugglers.

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Maritime forces patrolling the international waters of the Middle East have been seizing increasing quantities of drugs, but setting the traffickers free.

The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), an anti-piracy and terrorism fleet comprised of 30 seafaring nations, including the U.S., wades through over two million square miles of international waters in the search for drug traffickers. While the CMF have boarded countless boats and confiscated nearly 4,200 kilograms of heroin in the last 18 months, their lack of arresting authority has forced them to cut the traffickers loose.

As law enforcement in Central Asian republics, European Union, and Eastern European states has cracked down on overland drug trafficking, droves of vessels have taken to the open seas to transport their illicit products. In the last several years the drug route from Afghanistan has turned south, heading through Pakistan and Iran before using boats to cross the sea into Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Although the CMF works to disrupt the drug routes through frequent seizures, the practice has done little in terms of deterrence. From 2012 to 2013, the opiate production rate in Afghanistan climbed approximately 50%.

In an effort to better combat drug trafficking across the Indian Ocean, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is liaising with the government of Seychelles, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka. The UNODC hopes that eventually the CMF will have arresting powers in international waters, and that captured drug traffickers will be arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated.

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.