Transnational Crime Unit
NCIS Working with Partner Navies to Disrupt International Trafficking Networks in Middle East
On average, 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose each day in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The country has been grappling with a worsening drug epidemic for decades. In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids was five times higher than in 1999, for example. From 1999 to 2016, more than 630,000 people died from drug overdoses nationwide, including in communities where Navy personnel live and operate.
The Bahrain-based Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Transnational Crime Unit, or TCU, is helping with the counternarcotics fight in the waters of the Middle East by deploying special agents aboard multinational Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) warships during maritime security operations in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.
This team of highly skilled special agents patrols the high seas aboard ships from the United States, France, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Agents, who spend up to 90 days at sea at a time, provide law enforcement expertise and collect intelligence during interdictions of illicit narcotics aboard suspicious vessels found in areas known for drug trafficking operations.
They have participated in the seizure of nearly 10,000 kilograms of heroin and 30,000 kilograms of hashish over the past five years. Over that period, seizure totals have also grown significantly, from 755 kilograms of heroin and 5,588 kilograms of hashish in 2014 to 2,647 and 32,987 kilograms, respectively, in 2018. These operations have also resulted in the seizure of more than 2,000 weapons.
These interdictions deny funding for terrorism, said NCIS Director Andrew Traver, so the TCU contributes significantly to the National Defense Strategy. It also strengthens military readiness by keeping illicit narcotics from reaching service members and their families throughout Europe, Africa and the United States.