Largest heroin seizure by joint naval force made off Oman coast

Canadian Navy intercepts nearly 1,300 kilos of heroin in Arabian Gulf

The largest seizure of heroin in the history of the Combined Maritime Forces was announced on Monday, with nearly 1.3 tonnes of the drug seized off the coast of Oman.

The interception was conducted by the Royal Canadian Navy ship HMCS Calgary, part of the 34-nation naval force that polices the Arabian Gulf. The group’s headquarters are in Bahrain.

This record-setting haul of 1,286 kilograms of heroin was made on April 23, when the Canadian Navy intercepted two vessels suspected of drug smuggling.

The CMF said the drugs seized were worth more than $23.22 million

Less than 24 hours later, the HMCS Calgary made a second interception, capturing 794 pounds of methamphetamine.

The seizures will make “a salient impact to drug trafficking, often used to finance terrorism in the region”, said the CMF in a statement.

“I’m speaking for everyone on HMCS Calgary when I say it’s a great feeling to have made two substantial busts so early into our operation,” said the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr Mark O’Donohue.

The record-breaking seizure comes less than 10 days after the Calgary began operations in the region. It is a part of Canada’s Operation Artemis, a mission to counter terrorism and make Middle Eastern waters more secure.

“It’s fantastic to see that payoff and to know we are contributing to the interruption of a revenue stream that is being used to fund terrorism," Cmdr O'Donohue said.

“An excellent job by our Canadian partners, conducting these successful interdictions in such rapid succession," said Deputy Commander of CMF, Commodore Ed Ahlgren of the UK Royal Navy.

"As a multinational organisation, our agility is such that we are able to maintain a constant watch on illicit actors, using ships from many different navies,” he said.

The April 23 seizure was made seven years to the day since Australia’s HMAS Darwin intercepted 1,031kg of heroin off the east coast of Africa.

Last month, Egypt became the 34th country to join the CMF, which works to combat illicit non-state elements at sea and maintain the region’s maritime security.

Launched in 2002, the CMF operates across more than seven million square kilometres of international waters, including the Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz.

Updated: May 3, 2021 10:46 PM

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