UK’s Royal Navy-led task force seizes £17m worth of illegal drugs
US Navy destroyer USS Paul Hamilton – operating under Combined Task Force 150 – intercepted a suspicious vessel in the northern Arabian Sea. (Wiki Commons) Photo License: CC0
A UK Royal Navy-led task force under the command of Captain Jim Byron has seized around £17 million of illicit drugs in the Middle East.
In a press statement on Tuesday, the Royal Navy said that “US Navy destroyer USS Paul Hamilton – operating under Combined Task Force 150, commanded by Captain Jim Byron and his team in Bahrain – intercepted a suspicious vessel in the northern Arabian Sea in the small hours of Friday.”
The Hamilton’s boarding team seized and subsequently destroyed one tonne of hashish and 800kgs of methamphetamine with a combined UK wholesale value of £17.2 million.
The latest interdiction came on the back of a visit by Captain Byron to Seychelles, one of the potential destinations of the drugs.
“I’m delighted that we have once again been able to disrupt the flow of illegal narcotics in the northern Arabian Sea which will ultimately prevent them from reaching people in Europe, Africa and the Seychelles,” said Captain Byron.
Stopping any flow of illegal cargo into Seychelles was the subject of discussion Byron had with government ministers and the Chief of the Seychelles Defence Forces, Brigadier Michael Rosette.
“This kind of interdiction was a key topic of conversation during my visit to the Seychelles and I hope to continue this success in cooperation with our international partners,” he said.
Captain Byron met with Seychelles’ foreign affairs minister Sylvestre Radegonde on April 17 and both parties agreed that illicit drug trafficking is a shared problem that can only be tackled with shared solutions.
Radegonde explained that “illegal drugs are a big problem for Seychelles and we welcome cooperation to aid the fight in ensuring maritime security.”
Another avenue being looked into is the adoption of new methods and technology, namely surveillance drones, which will aid in real-time surveillance of Seychelles’ territorial waters.
The illicit drugs intercepted by the international task force since Byron and his staff took the helm in January amounted to £36.8 million, including more than six tonnes of hashish and over 1.5 tonnes of methamphetamine.
The force is focusing on curbing illegal terrorist activity across more than 2.5 million square miles of ocean with several warships from the Combined Maritime Forces – more than 30 nations committed to security in the Middle East region – patrolling the vast area.