RN in big Mid-East drug swoop

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Drugs worth £11m will never reach the streets – or fund terrorist activities – after the Royal Navy swooped on traffickers twice in two days in the Middle East, the Royal Navy announced.

HMS Montrose pounced on suspicious dhows in the Arabian Sea – resulting in a haul of nearly two-and-a-half tonnes of illegal narcotics seized in the back-to-back operations.

The frigate – which is based in Bahrain on a three-year security mission – was on patrol as part of an international task force focused on policing Middle Eastern waters to stop criminal, and especially terrorist, activity.

In hot, dirty conditions, her Royal Marines boarding team scoured the two craft for hours on end to recover the illegal cargoes.

“Having secured the vessel with my Royal Marines, we discovered the drugs in large bundled sacks, all containing individually wrapped packages. As soon as we opened the bags we were pretty confident it was an illicit substance,” boarding team leader Lieutenant Gorton RM said of the first bust.

The scores of red sacks his commandos located in a 12-hour operation turned out to be packed with heroin – 275kg in all, worth around £5.3m.

Just 36 hours later, his team was racing through the Northern Arabian Sea again in Montrose’s Pacific 24 fast boat to inspect another dhow.

The marines found an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ of illegal narcotics: hundreds of bags and sacks of hashish, heroin, and methamphetamine. It took them more than ten hours to recover them all.

“Everywhere we looked onboard there were suspicious packages,” said Lieutenant Gorton. “We soon realised how much we had interdicted.”

The tally was 2,145kg of illegal narcotics in all with a street value of £5.6m.

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