Royal Navy seizes almost £33m worth of drugs in Indian Ocean

The Royal Navy has seized nearly £33m worth of illegal drugs from traffickers in the Middle East.

Across two operations in less than 24 hours, HMS Lancaster seized a total of 3.7 tonnes of illegal drugs including heroin, crystal meth and cannabis from smugglers in the Indian Ocean.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said the actions of the crews dealt a “decisive blow to criminal networks”.

The ship was on its first security patrol following a training period when its Wildcat helicopter spotted a suspicious vessel.

The first operation lasted eight hours during which Royal Marines from 42 Commando secured the boat, allowing Lancaster’s sailors to board the vessel and recover nearly 100 packages containing heroin and crystal meth.

Less than 24 hours later, commandos and sailors from the Lancaster seized 2.4 tonnes of hashish, a form of cannabis, after the Royal Navy ship worked with its helicopter to spot and track another suspected boat throughout the night.

Collectively, the drugs seized in both operations had a street value of just under £33m, according to the National Crime Agency.

This comes just weeks after £17 million worth of illegal narcotics was sized by HMS Trent in the Caribbean.

Mr Shapps said: “The fantastic achievements of the crew of HMS Lancaster and Royal Marine commandos in the Indian Ocean shows the important role our Navy plays policing the oceans.

“Their relentless effort and professionalism have dealt another decisive blow to criminal networks.”

Commanding officer Chris Sharp said: “I am exceptionally proud of the entire team in Lancaster executing these two interdictions on the first two days of our deployment.

“Complex interceptions like these in such a challenging environment require true teamwork across the entire ship’s company.

“This success is shared with our partners in CTF (Combined Task Force) 150 who provided essential support to the operation.”