CMF: Royal Navy destroyer seizes record haul of crystal meth

HMS Defender (D36), a UK Royal Navy destroyer operating in the Gulf of Oman in direct support of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150), has seized 131 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine from a dhow.

The operation was carried out in the northern Arabian Sea on December 19, 2019, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) said.

The suspicious vessel was first detected using Defender’s shipborne helicopter.

Defender closed the dhow and a team of Royal Marine Commandos in Pacific 24 sea boats boarded and secured the vessel. It was then searched by a Royal Navy boarding team that found 11 packages of narcotics, with an estimated regional wholesale value of USD 280,000.

“I am really proud that Defender has been able to interdict such a significant quantity of drugs and prevent it reaching the streets,” The Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, Cdr Richard Hewitt MBE said.

HMS Defender’s haul, on its first day working under CMF, is CTF-150’s largest interdiction of crystal methamphetamine for 2019, more than doubling the amount seized so far. It takes CTF-150’s overall narcotics seizures this year to USD 48.5 million.

“This is the second narcotics shipment in a week we’ve kept from reaching its destination,” said Commodore Ray Leggatt, Royal Australian Navy, Commander of CTF-150.

Australia assumed command of CTF-150 in early December, with a staff made up of personnel from the Royal Australian, Royal Canadian, and Royal New Zealand navies. HMS Defender’s success under their command follows that of French ship Courbet last weekend, which seized 3,545kg of hashish with an estimated regional wholesale value of USD 1.8 million.

CTF-150 has seen a huge increase in the amount of crystal methamphetamine being smuggled year on year, with 257kg interdicted to date in 2019, versus only 9kg in 2018.