Navy

Navy Seizes Drugs Worth £11m In Arabian Sea Busts

Royal Marines seized 2.4 tonnes of drugs in a 10-hour operation, only two days after a separate bust by HMS Montrose.

Royal Marines from HMS Montrose have intercepted more than 2.6 tonnes of illicit drugs in the North Arabian Sea.

The personnel, part of a Combined Maritime Forces Task Force, boarded a suspect boat in the region while on a counter-narcotics patrol.

After a 10-hour operation, 2.4 tonnes of heroin, crystal methamphetamine and hashish were seized –  only two days after a separate bust in the area saw Montrose seize 275kg of heroin.

Commander Ollie Hucker, Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose, told Forces News the operation was "absolutely textbook".

"It proves that my ship's company, once again, are hugely capable [and] hugely professional," he said.

The combined haul of almost three tonnes of drugs has an estimated wholesale value of £11m.

HMS Montrose is the Navy's Forward Deployed Frigate in the Gulf and has been in the region since leaving her base port of Devonport, Plymouth, in early 2019.

And from their work in the region, Cdr Hucker said the assumption was that the drugs, "particularly the heroin and crystal meth", were being moved from Afghanistan to the Makran coast.

"Then it spreads its tentacles along the smuggling routes, either into Yemen or down into Africa," he said.

"But ultimately, stopping it at source prevents it getting to the streets of the UK."

James Heappey, Minister for the Armed Forces, said both the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines have "once again proven" their capability to seize drugs in transit.

"As a result of these operations, Britain's streets are safer and a possible source of terrorist financing has been choked off," he added.

WATCH: Commander Ollie Hucker, Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose, speaks to Forces News presenter Kate Gerbeau.

HMS Montrose is part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a multinational force of 33 nations working in the Gulf to disrupt criminal and terrorist organisations and their illicit activity.

Coalition Task Force 150, as part of the CMF, operates to disrupt the activity of criminal organisations, in particular narcotics and weapons smuggling.

A spokesperson for Combined Maritime Forces said the latest busts build on the Navy's "fantastic work in the Caribbean during the hurricane season", where £360m worth of drugs were seized across an eight-month period.

HMS Montrose last made a drug bust in October, seizing 450 kilograms of methamphetamine in the Gulf.

The wholesale value of the seized narcotics was £18m – the largest ever seizure of methamphetamines by the Royal Navy in the region.

Cover image: Personnel aboard HMS Montrose having seized £11m worth of drugs in the North Arabian Sea (Picture: MOD).