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U.S. Navy offers cash for tips on illicit weapons, drugs in Mideast

An SH-60 Seahawk helicopter from the USS Monterey flies above a stateless dhow, a type of  sailing vessel, in the Arabian Sea, May 6, 2021. The Navy said sailors found thousands of illicit weapons on board.

(U.S. Navy File Photo) DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - The U.S.

Navy's Mideast-based 5th Fleet is starting to offer rewards for information that could help sailors intercept weapons, drugs and other illicit shipments across the region amid tensions over Iran's nuclear program and Tehran's arming of Yemen's Houthi rebels.While avoiding directly mentioning Iran, the 5th Fleet's decision to offer cash and other goods for actionable intelligence in the Persian Gulf and other strategic waterways may increase pressure on the flow of weapons to the Houthis as a shaky cease-fire still holds in Yemen.Already, the Houthis have threatened a new allied task force organized by the 5th Fleet in the Red Sea, though there's been no attack by the Iranian-backed forces on the Navy in the time since.Meanwhile, the 5th Fleet says it and its partners seized $500 million in drugs alone in 2021 — more than the four prior years combined. The 5th Fleet also intercepted 9,000 weapons in the same period, three times the number seized in 2020."Any destabilizing activity has our attention," Cmdr.

Timothy Hawkins, a 5th Fleet spokesman, told The Associated Press. "Definitely we have seen in the last year skyrocketing success in seizing both illegal narcotics and illicit weapons.

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