Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon has seized £1.6m of narcotics on the infamous ‘smack track’ – the heroin smuggling route between the Makran Coast of Iran and Pakistan and East Africa.
Less than two weeks after seizing three tons of cannabis on the so-called ‘hash highway’, the Portsmouth-based destroyer pounced on a dhow to uncover a half-ton haul of heroin and hashish and 9kg of crystal meth.
The ship was patrolling the known smuggling route when one of the officers of the watch on HMS Dragon’s bridge, spied a dhow far from the usual shipping lanes at the weekend.
“The dhow looked suspicious so we sent the boarding teams in the sea boats to talk to the crew. Their answers raised our suspicions further, and so we commenced the boarding. Following a search by our trained teams we were able to locate and recover these narcotics, stopping their onward likely travel into Europe and the United Kingdom, as well as disrupting the funding of illicit activity,” Lieutenant Jonathan Bennett said.
The haul is estimated to be worth $2m locally (£1.6m) – and far more on the streets of the UK had it reached here. Any money raised from the sales would have been ploughed back into terrorist or criminal networks in the region.
The bust came hot on the heels of a week-long visit to Goa for annual exercises with the Indian Navy and, before that, the biggest war games in Oman since 2001, plus the first chance for a British warship to work with F-35 Lightning stealth fighters on operations, courtesy of the USS Essex.
Leading Seamen Adam Parker, one of the ship’s sea boat crew, was responsible for ferrying the boarding team – a mixture of Royal Marines Commandos to provide protection and Royal Navy sailors to carry out the search – across to the dhow. They later transported the haul of drugs, which were later destroyed, back to HMS Dragon.
HMS Dragon will be at sea over the Christmas period as she continues to patrol some of the 2.5m square miles of water covered by the international Combined Task Force 150, which is dedicated to tackling terrorist activity on the high seas.