Royal Navy seizes largest-ever £15.5m crystal meth stash

HMS Montrose - LCS Henry Parks/Royal Navy
HMS Montrose – LCS Henry Parks/Royal Navy

The Royal Navy has uncovered its largest-ever stash of crystal meth during an operation in the Arabian Sea.

HMS Montrose seized 870kg of crystal methamphetamine from a dhow after the frigate’s Wildcat helicopter tracked its  movements.

Royal Marines from 42 Commando, the UK military’s specialists in these operations, seized control of the vessel in choppy conditions, before sailors moved in to search for illegal cargo.

The drugs, which have a wholesale value of £15.5 million according to the National Crime Agency, were discovered in a secret compartment of the vessel following the six-hour operation.

HMS Montrose boarding - LCS Henry Parks/Royal Navy
HMS Montrose boarding – LCS Henry Parks/Royal Navy

A navy spokesman said: “HMS Montrose pounced after her Wildcat helicopter located and tracked the suspect dhow until the frigate was in range to launch her boarding teams in her boats.”

They added that it was due to “persistence from the boarding team” that led to the location of the secret compartment.

Lieutenant Liam Speed, Royal Navy boarding officer, said his team “did really well and I’m really pleased with the outcome”.

He explained that they initially found 10 bags, but suspected there were more. “Once we got behind a false bulkhead we found a compartment full of illegal narcotics,” he said.

The most recent haul exceeds the previous record haul from 2019, when HMS Defender discovered 131kg of crystal meth from a dhow sailing in the Gulf of Oman.

HMS Montrose, which has been based in the Middle East since 2019, has intercepted narcotics worth nearly £47 million this year.

Commander Claire Thompson, the frigate’s commanding officer, said the Royal Navy had succeeded in disrupting “the unlawful use of the oceans”.

“A seizure of this size will deal a huge blow to the criminal or terrorist gangs using these illegal narcotics to fund their activity,” she said.

“This success proves we will persistently deny criminals the freedom to conduct their illegal activity on the high seas.

“Disrupting terrorist organisations, criminals and their funding lines is key to keeping to the UK, and the rest of the world, safe.”

HMS Montrose drugs haul - Royal Navy
HMS Montrose drugs haul – Royal Navy

Commander Thompson said it was a “privilege to command HMS Montrose and the incredibly professional, highly trained and dedicated personnel that I have on my team”.

“I could not be prouder of each and every one of them,” she added.

Commodore Adrian Fryer, senior Royal Navy officer in the Middle East – and also Deputy Commander of the Combined Maritime Forces, said that once again the concerted international naval effort had delivered results, preventing “a significant quantity of illegal narcotics from reaching its destination”.

He continued: “The professionalism of all involved, from the command of the task force through to the boarding team, is demonstrative of our commitment to maintaining rules-based order at sea. I look forward to continued success for CTF 150 and HMS Montrose.”

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