Royal Navy warship seizes £1.6 million worth of narcotics

A Royal Navy warship has made a second major drugs bust with a seizure of £1.6 million worth of narcotics in the Middle East.

Portsmouth-based HMS Dragon discovered a half-tonne haul of heroin, hashish and 9kg of crystal meth when it searched a suspicious dhow travelling on an infamous smuggling route between the Makran Coast of Iran and Pakistan and East Africa.

A navy spokesman said: “The haul is estimated to be worth 2 million US dollars locally (£1.6 million) – 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.”

Sailors and Royal Marines onboard HMS Dragon
Sailors and Royal Marines onboard HMS Dragon

The seizure comes two weeks after the Type 45 destroyer found three tonnes of cannabis aboard another dhow.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Once again, HMS Dragon has demonstrated the strength, capability and global reach of our Royal Navy.

“I am incredibly proud of her crew as they confirm the UK’s crucial role in tackling the illegal and destructive global drugs trade.”

Lieutenant Jonathan Bennett, one of the officers of the watch on HMS Dragon’s bridge, who spied the dhow far from the usual shipping lanes at the weekend, said: “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.”

Sailors and Royal Marines off-loading the drugs following the seizure
Sailors and Royal Marines off-loading the drugs following the seizure

Commander Michael Carter Quinn, commanding officer of HMS Dragon, said: “To achieve this seizure, so swiftly after the last, and alongside having been part of a complex war-fighting exercise only a few days ago, is demonstration of the hard work and professionalism of all the Dragons on board.

“It serves to highlight the breadth of skills available on board HMS Dragon and the rich variety of tasks being delivered by Royal Naval Ships deployed across the globe.”

The navy spokesman added: “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.”