£14m of drugs used to fund terrorist activity will never reach their destination thanks to a major bust by HMS Westminster.
The Portsmouth-based warship intercepted a suspicious dhow in the Indian Ocean, seizing over 70 bales containing more than 180kg of pure heroin.
This is the moment the men and women of HMS Westminster prepare to board a drugs smuggler in the Indian Ocean – seizing £14m of pure heroin in the process.
The Portsmouth-based frigate pounced with her Merlin helicopter and combined Royal Marines and Royal Navy boarding teams receiving orders to search for, intercept and board a suspicious vessel.
They did – and found more than 70 bales of pure heroin, weighing more than 180kg (nearly 400lbs) on the dhow; it’s estimated the drugs have a street value of US $22m – just shy of £14m.
The bales of heroin are lined up on Westminster's upper deck
It’s the first success for Britain’s ‘capital ship’ since she arrived in the region a couple of months ago to continue the Royal Navy’s long-standing fight against criminal activity on the high seas east of Suez.
She’s operating under the banner of Combined Task Force 150, one of three task forces co-ordinated by the international Combined Maritime Forces, with the aim of defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, stopping the illegal trafficking of people and drugs, and promoting the maritime environment as a safe place for mariners with legitimate business.
“This has been a successful day for Westminster and for Combined Maritime Forces,” said Capt Nick Hine, Westminster’s Commanding Officer.
“These smugglers have failed in their quest to make money by bringing misery to those addicted to this harmful substance in the cities around the world.”
The sun sets on Westminster and the intercepted dhow with one of the frigate's RIBs standing guard
His ship was directed to seek out the suspicious dhow by the Royal Australian Navy’s Cdre Jonathan Mead, in charge of Combined Task Force 150.
He hailed Westminster’s success as “a dark day for terrorists” – and the second major bust by the force in the past few weeks.
“We are talking about a street value of approximately $22 million and I am quite proud of the fact that CTF 150 has now effected the disposal of these substances and further legitimised the lawful and stable maritime environment we are here to champion,” he added.
“This is the second disruption in two months brings our tally of narcotics seized and destroyed to a total of 422 kilograms. The subsequent destruction of these drugs reduces the funding lines of known terror groups by $49 million.”