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$20mn drug bust off Oman coast

26 Jan 2022 $20mn drug bust off Oman coast By OUR CORRESPONDENT

Muscat – A United Kingdom Royal Navy frigate has seized a tonne of drugs worth an estimated US$20mn from a small vessel off the coast of Oman last week.

HMS Montrose, a Royal Navy ship operating as part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), seized the illicit drugs in the Sea of Oman.

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.

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.
‘This successful 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,’ a UK Defence Ministry release stated.

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

Claire Thompson, Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose, said, “Our enduring presence never wanes. Nine rotations into the forward deployed model, HMS Montrose remains as professional and enthusiastic as ever. Starboard Crew’s relentless efforts have resulted in a substantial seizure of illegal narcotics and I am extremely proud of my team.”

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.

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.

CMF is a multinational maritime partnership, which exists to counter illicit non-state actors.

Commodore Adrian Fryer, UK Maritime Component Commander and CMF’s Deputy Commander said, “Working
with coalition partners from Combined Maritime Forces, and particularly our Royal New Zealand Navy partners at the helm of Combined Task Force 150, I am delighted with HMS Montrose’s successful narcotics seizure.”

The Royal Navy’s role in the region includes finding and disposing of illicit drugs on the high seas. This disrupts the finance revenues of organised crime and terrorist organisations, and the crew of HMS Montrose and the staff of Combined Maritime Forces should be proud of the work they are doing; it makes a real difference and I look forward to continued success.

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