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Royal Navy deals second blow to Middle East drug runners in days

27 January 2022
The Royal Navy has dealt its second multi-million-pound blow to drug traffickers in the Middle East in days.

More than one tonne of illegal narcotics was captured by HMS Montrose – over £8m of drugs on the back of a £15m haul just a few days ago.

In a nine-hour operation in the Gulf of Oman, the ship’s boarding team of sailors and Royal Marines of 42 Commando recovered 150 kilogrammes of heroin, 250 kilogrammes of methamphetamine and 665 kilogrammes of hashish – depriving criminal and terrorist networks of vital funding.

The boarding teams approached the suspect vessel on two of Montrose’s Pacific 24 boats, before seizing the dhow and conducting a search, with the frigate’s Wildcat helicopter monitoring events from above.

The illicit substances were seized and brought back to HMS Montrose for analysis and destruction.

It’s estimated the wholesale value of the drugs totalled more than £8m. 

The frigate’s delighted Commanding Officer Claire Thompson said: “I am yet again incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication my crew continue to put into conducting these operations.

“Another large seizure of illegal drugs, demonstrates our commitment to stopping the smuggling of narcotics, and having been joined by the National Crime Agency for the period, really demonstrates a collegiate approach to an international problem.”

Joining the ship for the bust was Kevin Dawson from the National Crime Agency – responsible for tackling organised crime, drug trafficking and other major crimes in the UK – who found the experience invaluable, and was also able to underscore the significance of the ship’s success to the sailors and Royal Marines.

I am yet again incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication my crew continue to put into conducting these operations.

Commanding Officer Claire Thompson

HMS Montrose has been deployed to the Gulf region for more than 1,000 days. Operating out of Bahrain, she supports maritime security operations and multi-national task forces in the Middle East, and protecting the interests of the United Kingdom and its allies.

As with her earlier success, Montrose was assigned to the international Combined Task Force 150, dedicated to counter-terrorism duties. 

Its Pakistani Navy commander Commodore Vaqar Muhammad said: “This seizure is a manifestation of the resolve and commitment of surface and air assets supporting CTF 150 to suppress and deter illicit activities at sea.

“Once again, the professionalism and dedication of HMS Montrose is commendable. CTF 150 continues to maintain a robust presence to support freedom of navigation to seafarers.” 

Commodore Adrian Fryer, UK Maritime Component Commander and the senior Royal Navy officer in the Middle East, added: “For the second time in ten days HMS Montrose, working together with our international partners, has seized a significant quantity of illegal drugs. This is another fantastic result and the whole ship’s company can be proud of what they have achieved.”

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