Royal Navy’s ship strikes £15 million blow to Gulf drugs trade

HMS Montrose, a Royal Navy ship operating as part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), has seized over 1 tonne of illicit drugs in the Gulf of Oman worth almost £15 million.

Royal Navy

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.

Photo by: Royal Navy

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 destruction.

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

“The Royal Navy continues to step forward with our partners in the Combined Maritime Forces to stamp out the smuggling of illegal substances,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

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. On 5 January, the Royal Navy’s warship HMS Montrose passed the 1,000-day milestone of keeping the Gulf sea lanes open and tackling drug smugglers.

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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.

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