French ship seizes drugs worth $17m in Arabian Sea

Methamphetamine and heroin haul ‘will hamper funding of terrorism’

The FS Guepratte ship’s company on the flight deck, with the narcotics seized from a vessel in the Arabian Sea. Marine Nationale
The FS Guepratte ship’s company on the flight deck, with the narcotics seized from a vessel in the Arabian Sea. Marine Nationale

A French ship monitoring drug trafficking in the Arabian Sea seized narcotics worth $17 million on its latest mission.

The haul is the sixth major drug bust in the area in the past month by Marine Nationale vessels. Officials said it will have a negative effect on the funding of terrorism.

French frigate FS Guepratte seized 626 kilograms of methamphetamine during the latest Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) counter-narcotics operation in the Arabian Sea.

The crew spotted a suspicious vessel and a search operation uncovered the illicit cargo, which included heroin worth $787,500.

“This drug seizure contributes to the high level of achievements performed by French naval forces in the area," said Capt Guilhem Desvignes, Guepratte’s commanding officer.

"It represents another great success against the illicit traffic of narcotic drugs at sea and crowns the efficient and relentless training undertaken by my crew since September."

The frigate was supported by the Combined Task Force, which monitors the region. Since January, the Canadian-led outfit has seized almost 20 tonnes of drugs in 11 interceptions using ships from France, the UK and the US.

“I particularly want to highlight the outstanding co-operation we had with CTF-150 which was key to this significant success," Capt Desvignes said.

Boarding teams from FS Guépratte approach a suspicious vessel in the Arabian Sea. A later search operation uncovered almost 1,400 lbs of methamphetamine and heroin. Marine Nationale
Boarding teams from FS Guépratte approach a suspicious vessel in the Arabian Sea. A later search operation uncovered almost 1,400 lbs of methamphetamine and heroin. Marine Nationale

Deputy Commander of CMF, Commodore Ed Ahlgren of Britain's Royal Navy, said the money from the drugs would probably have been used to fund terrorism.

“The successful seizure of methamphetamine on this scale shows how critical our maritime security operations are to tackling global issues," he said.

“It’s important we consider the downstream effects; these illicit actors will now be hampered in their other activities, including terrorism, while communities can rest easy knowing this harmful product will not be on their streets.”

String of raids disrupt Arabian Sea crime

In the past few weeks, other raids netted drugs worth $16.66 million.

CTF-150 is one of three CMF task forces on a mission to disrupt criminal and terrorist organisations in the Arabian Sea region.

Commander of CTF-150, Commodore Daniel Charlebois of the Royal Canadian Navy, said teamwork was hampering terrorist organisations.

“It is only through strong relationships with trusted partners and allies that CTF-150 has enjoyed tangible results at sea, such as the most recent interdiction made by FS Guepratte," he said.

"I send my personal thanks to the Marine Nationale for their continued excellence as we continue to work together in denying criminal and terrorist organisations unrestricted access to the maritime domain.”

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: April 29, 2021 04:48 PM

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