MANAMA, Bahrain– Coalition warships operating in the North Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden as part of Combined Task Force 150 have seized more than 20 tons of narcotics since October, with an estimated value of more than $100 million, officials said.

CTF 150, also tasked with conducting counter-piracy operations, is part of a continual presence in the region committed to creating and maintaining a lawful maritime order.

The task force has seized more than 53 tons of narcotics during 2008, officials said. The drugs, seized by U.S. and Royal Navy forces, otherwise could have been used to help fund the insurgency fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan and contributed to instability in the region, officials said.

“The seizure of these drugs cuts off a vital lifeline of funds to those conducting destabilizing activities in the region,” said Royal Navy Commodore Tim Lowe, deputy commander of Combined Maritime Forces. “By stemming the flow of these drugs, we play a crucial role in providing security and stability to the entire region.”

Sailors discovered hidden drugs in vessels operating along the so-called “Hash Highway.” They destroyed large quantities of narcotics, but always ensured sufficient evidence was gathered to aid in subsequent investigations by local authorities after the drug smugglers were handed over for prosecution, officials said.

“The smugglers need to know there are consequences for their actions,” Lowe said. “By aggressively patrolling these waters, we send a message to all would-be smugglers that we are here, and we won’t tolerate drug trafficking in international waters.”

CTF 150 is a multinational task force that conducts maritime security operations in and around the Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

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