A Royal Navy ship patrols the North Atlantic for several months every year, working with the US Coastguard to look for drug smugglers. Suspect ships are boarded and searched, and if drugs are found, they are seized and destroyed and the smugglers dealt with through the US legal process.
Stopping the scourge of drugs reach UK shores – or any shores for that matter – has become a key mission for the Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Fleet Air Arm in recent years.
Much of that effort is focused on the Caribbean with a destroyer, frigate, or RFA guardship, working hand-in-hand with the US Coast Guard to intercept drug-runners; a specially-trained team of US Coast Guard officers – a Law Enforcement Detachment – carries out the act of boarding.
The traffickers typically use ‘go fasts’ – speedboats packed with petrol and drugs – hoping to outrun the authorities or else try to hide their evil cargo in tugs and fishing boats.
In addition to the counter-narcotics effort in the West Indies, Royal Navy warships are committed on the ‘Hashish Highway’ – a sea-lane in the western Indian Ocean off the Pakistani coast commonly known as the Hashish Highway.
It’s estimated that 90 per cent of the heroin from Afghanistan which reaches the UK travels on this route.
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