Royal Navy Seizes £6.5 Million Of Cannabis In Middle East
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£6.5 million worth of cannabis has been seized by a Royal Navy ship on patrol in the Middle East, in what is believed to be the biggest drugs haul in the region in a decade.
The crew of HMS Montrose - a navy frigate based in Bahrain - captured around 6.5 tonnes of hashish after intercepting and boarding a dhow (a traditional sailing vessel) in the Gulf of Oman.
The seizure is the third such operation since the start of this year by the HMS Montrose, and the ninth made by the ship since it was first deployed to the region to support allied anti-drug trafficking efforts in the region three years ago.
According to the royal navy, operations carried out by the Montrose since its deployment have helped to deprive traffickers of as much as £95 million worth of illegal drugs, with this £6.5 million seizure the largest of its kind made by ships in the Middle East in 10 years.
A spokesperson for the Royal Navy said: 'While the commandos and sailors conducted their thorough search of the suspect vessel, the ship’s Wildcat helicopter provided support and protection throughout.'
In a statement reported by The Independent, Lieutenant Joe Martin, the Royal Marines boarding officer in charge of the operation, explained: 'the hashish, also known as cannabis resin, was tallied and tested aboard HMS Montrose, a UK wholesale value of £6.5 million estimated, then the drugs were destroyed.'
Lt. Martin praised his team for the seizure, saying: 'I’m really proud of the team; we conducted this boarding efficiently using the experience we’ve gained over the past three months. We learn each time we board a vessel, never resting on our laurels and continually honing our edge.'
Commanding officer Commander Claire Thompson said: 'Once again, HMS Montrose and her ship’s company have proven their capability in the battle against illegal and illicit activity in the region.'
The news comes three months after the US Navy made headlines for a massive $4 million heroin seizure made in the Gulf of Oman, which was similarly hidden aboard a stateless fishing vessel.
According to ABC News, heroin, cannabis and other illegal drugs are regularly smuggled across the gulf from Iran, before being smuggled through the Middle East and eastern European countries like the Balkans to countries in Europe.
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