UK navy seizes more than $20 million worth of illicit drugs in Gulf of Oman

663kg of heroin, 87kg of methamphetamine and 291kg of hashish and marijuana seized



Image used for illustrative purpose. HMS Montrose accompanying merchant vessels in the Gulf. (Photo: AFP)
Image used for illustrative purpose. HMS Montrose accompanying merchant vessels in the Gulf. (Photo: AFP)

By Prasun Sonwalkar

Published: Mon 24 Jan 2022, 4:53 PM

HMS Montrose, a Royal Navy ship operating as part of the Combined Maritime Forces – a multi-national maritime partnership to counter illicit non-state actors – has seized over 1 tonne of illicit drugs in the Gulf of Oman worth almost $20 million, officials said on Monday.

In an operation lasting almost 10 hours, a team from the warship boarded a suspect in international waters off the coast of Oman and seized 663kg of heroin, 87kg of methamphetamine and 291kg of hashish and marijuana.

This is the largest Royal Navy drugs bust since HMS Montrose seized 2.4 tonnes of illicit substances in the Arabian Sea last year, the officials added.

A Navy team including Royal Marines approached the small vessel on two Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats before securing and searching the vessel. The illicit substances were then brought back to HMS Montrose for analysis and destroyed.

The operation has prevented a large amount of illicit drugs from potentially reaching the UK and being sold on British streets. Organised criminals, often associated with the funding of terrorism, have also been denied a source of income.

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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The Royal Navy continue to step forward with our partners in the Combined Maritime Forces to stamp out the smuggling of illegal substances. As a result of this successful bust, our streets our safer and have choked off a huge source of finance to international organised crime groups”.

HMS Montrose has been deployed to the region since early 2019, actively supporting maritime security operations and multi-national task forces in the Middle East, and protecting the interests of the United Kingdom and its allies.

The warship regularly works alongside international partners which make up the 34-nation coalition CMF, which was led by the Royal New Zealand Navy at the time of the drugs bust. The leadership role has now passed to the Pakistan Navy.


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