Britain's Royal Navy has seized a tonne of drugs worth an estimated $20 million (Dh73m) from a small vessel in the Gulf of Oman.
In a 10-hour operation, a specialist team from HMS Montrose intercepted a ship loaded with 663kg of heroin, 87kg of methamphetamine and 291kg of hashish and marijuana.
The crew included the Royal Marines, which launched the operation from two rigid-hulled inflatable boats in international waters near Oman.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the drugs were probably destined for the UK and were probably associated with the funding of terrorism.
“The Royal Navy continues to step forward with our partners in the Combined Maritime Forces to stamp out the smuggling of illegal substances,” he said.
“As a result of this successful bust, our streets our safer and have choked off a huge source of finance to international organised crime groups.”
HMS Montrose has been in the region since early 2019. It is supporting maritime security operations and multinational task forces in the Middle East, and protecting UK interests and its allies.
The warship regularly works alongside international partners which make up the 34-nation coalition Combined Maritime Forces, a multinational maritime partnership to counter illicit non-state actors.
At the time of the latest drugs seizure, operations were led by the Royal New Zealand Navy. The leadership role has now passed to the Pakistan Navy.
The $20m haul is the largest seizure made at sea by HMS Montrose, a frigate seconded to the CMF Task Force in the Middle East, since three tonnes of illegal drugs were intercepted in the northern Arabian Sea in February.
“Working with coalition partners from CMF, and particularly our Royal New Zealand Navy partners at the helm of Combined Task Force 150, I am delighted with HMS Montrose’s successful narcotics seizure,” said Commodore Adrian Fryer, UK Maritime Component Commander and CMF’s Deputy Commander.
“The Royal Navy’s role in the region includes finding and disposing of illicit drugs on the high seas.
“This disrupts the finance revenues of organised crime and terrorist organisations.
“The crew of HMS Montrose and the CMF staff should be proud of the work they are doing; it makes a real difference.”