Royal Navy-led task force bags £6.4m drugs in second bust in a month

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A Royal Navy-led task force has dealt its second multi-million-pound blow to drug traffickers in the Middle East

Not four weeks after Combined Task Force 150, commanded by Captain Jim Byron, seized 4½ tonnes of illegal narcotics in the Gulf of Oman, a ship under the group’s command struck again.

This time, more than 1.6 tonnes of drugs were intercepted – a combination of hashish, methamphetamine and pills worth more £6.4m in the UK.

Crew of the US Coast Guard Cutter John Scheuerman discovered 1,350 kilograms of hashish, 276 kilograms of methamphetamine and 23 kilograms of amphetamine pills aboard a four-crew dhow during a routine patrol for the maritime security task force.

Last month the USCG cutter Emlen Tunnell was similarly successful in the same waters, preventing drugs with an estimated UK wholesale value of £13.2m reaching their destination – and the proceeds funding criminal activities.

“Using the combined ships, aircraft and personnel of the Combined Maritime Forces to patrol the high seas, we will make every effort to stop illicit trafficking and terrorism,” said Capt Byron.

“We will continue to pursue this mission day and night from the Strait of Hormuz south to Madagascar and beyond.”

Based in Bahrain and commanded by Capt Byron with an international staff, though predominantly Royal Navy, the task force comprises several ships from some of the 38 nations committed to the Combined Maritime Forces – the world’s largest naval partnership – which operates several groups dedicated to maritime security/counter-terrorism/counter-piracy and the safe passage of merchant trade in the Red and Arabian Seas, Gulf and Indian Ocean.