RFA Argus personnel on fast boat during drugs bust in Caribbean 031020 CREDIT Royal Navy.jpg
Navy

Royal Navy Task Group Seizes £160m Of Drugs In Caribbean

Two operations in the region prevented the drugs from potentially being sold.

RFA Argus personnel on fast boat during drugs bust in Caribbean 031020 CREDIT Royal Navy.jpg

A Royal Navy task group has seized drugs worth more than £160m in the Caribbean. 

RFA Argus, Royal Marines and US Coast Guard teams collaborated with Dutch Navy ship HNLMS Groningen to seize 1.7 tonnes of cocaine and 28kg of amphetamines.

It was the second drug bust in two days, as they seized 264kg of cocaine in a separate operation only 48 hours earlier.

Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: "The Royal Navy has once again demonstrated its professionalism and tactical operational capability in an international effort to stop illegal drug-smuggling.

"It is with thanks to their efforts that £160 million worth of drugs will never reach the streets of the UK."

The first of the two recent busts came when two suspicious vessels were spotted near RFA Argus and patrol ship Groningen.

A Royal Marine sniper team from 42 Commando boarded a Wildcat helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron to stop the vessel.

A search conducted by a team made up of Royal Marines from 47 Commando, the US Coast Guard and personnel from HNLMS Groningen followed.

Two days later, as RFA Argus was conducting routine training, one of the Merlin helicopters spotted a suspicious craft.

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel changed course to give chase and the Merlin and Wildcat helicopters worked with HNLMS Groningen to allow the US Coast Guard to intercept the craft.

RFA Argus at sea in Caribbean drug bust operation 031020 CREDIT Royal Navy.jpg
RFA Argus is in the Caribbean to offer support to British Overseas Territories during hurricane season (Picture: Royal Navy).

Commanding Officer of RFA Argus, Captain Kevin Rimell, said: “This recent interdiction is yet another example of multinational co-operation in the Caribbean.

“I am proud that the team of RFA Argus, utilising 815 and 845 Naval Air Squadron helicopters, boats crewed by RFA personnel and Royal Marines from 47 Commando, were able to take the lead in an operation alongside our US Coastguard and Dutch Navy colleagues.

“Collectively we secured and apprehended a number of smugglers and a large quantity of contraband.

“These are challenging times and we ask a lot of our people so it is encouraging to see that our training and professionalism continues to shine through.”

After three separate drug busts that took place last month, the Royal Navy Caribbean task group has now prevented nearly £250bn worth of drugs from being sold.

RFA Argus is in the Caribbean as part of a Royal Navy task group with HMS Medway providing support to British Overseas Territories during hurricane season.

However, both vessels also continue to carry out maritime security and counter-narcotics operations in the region.

Cover image: A team of Royal Marines from 47 Commando searched the suspicious vessel together with US Coast Guard and HNLMS Groningen personnel (Picture: Royal Navy).