HMS Dragon, operating under the Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, has conducted the largest drugs haul in Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) history, seizing and destroying just shy of 10,000 kg of illegal narcotics from two dhows. Had CMF not intervened, the hashish would have been sold locally for approximately £5 Million pounds or in markets further afield for many times that amount, with the profits benefiting organized crime networks and terrorist organizations.
The Task Force is led by Commodore Darren Garnier, Royal Canadian Navy, who said “HMS Dragon’s successes under CTF 150 command is a testament to the effectiveness of CMF coalition maritime security operations in the Middle Eastern and East African regions in deterring and denying terrorists’ use of the high seas for illegal activities. These drug seizures are directly taking the funding out of the pockets of terrorist organizations. A job well done to HMS Dragon and thank you for your continued efforts in support of CTF 150. Bravo Zulu!”.
During the drugs bust, the weather rapidly deteriorated, resulting in increasingly hazardous conditions. The ship’s Wildcat helicopter, was deployed to speed the process of transferring the drugs back to the warship. The deployment of the helicopter to assist with the recovery of the narcotics significantly sped up the process and enabled all the sailors and Royal Marines to be recovered to HMS Dragon before midnight on what had been a second very long and challenging day.
Lt J Bennett RN, one of HMS Dragon’s Boarding Officers, said: “To achieve two major drugs busts in under 48 hours is a massive achievement for the team. Our Royal Navy and Royal Marine boarding teams worked long hours in very challenging sea conditions in order to remove nearly 10,000 kg of narcotics. Personnel had to endure heavy seas, large amounts of ship movement and a dangerous working environment; all while removing over 300 heavy bags of narcotics and transporting them to HMS Dragon successfully”.
The two recent busts are HMS Dragon’s third and fourth under CTF 150 on this deployment. She has been operating in the region since November and is currently working alongside HMAS Ballarat in support to CFT 150. HMS Dragon will spend the period over Christmas at sea continuing her support to CTF 150, and her great work ensuring the security of the high seas.