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More drugs seized in Gulf - U.S.

Nearly 3,000 pounds of hashish were seized Thursday.
Nearly 3,000 pounds of hashish were seized Thursday.

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(CNN) -- U.S. forces say they have confiscated nearly 3,000 pounds of hashish and detained 15 people in the northern Persian Gulf.

The seizure is the third interception of boats bearing drugs in the last two weeks by coalition sea forces.

U.S. Central Command said the seizure resulted from interrogations of crew members in the first two anti-drug operations.

Thursday's seizure took place in the northern Persian Gulf in the area of operations covered by the U.S. Central Command and the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, according to a statement from Central Command.

"Many terror organizations have been assessed to use drug money to fund their operations," said Vice Adm. David C. Nichols Jr., Commander of the Naval Forces in Central Command and the 5th Fleet.

"It is easy to see how al Qaeda could use this money making network to fund their operations."

On December 15, USS Decatur detained a dhow and its 12 crew members, seizing nearly $10 million in hashish, and five days later, USS Philippine Sea detained two dhows and their 21 crew members, seizing 95 pounds of heroin and 50 to 100 pounds of methamphetamines.

USS Peleliu, USS Port Royal and USS Germantown -- along with elements of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit -- handled Thursday's seizure, Central Command said, after an Australian P-3 located and tracked the dhow.

The 2,800 pounds of drugs seized were worth about $11 million, Central Command said.

The crew members were aboard U.S. ships awaiting further questioning.

Central Command said 10 of the 33 crew members seized in December had been transferred to an "undisclosed facility" for more questioning after their initial interrogations "revealed possible al Qaeda affiliations deemed noteworthy enough to pursue further."

The other 23 have been handed over to officials of an undisclosed country in the region, Central Command said.


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