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US maritime patrol aircraft assists British navy in drug haul

The HMS Defender seized over a metric ton of high-grade hashish off the south coast of Oman on Tuesday, June 7, 2016.

COURTESY OF ROYAL NAVY

By CHRIS CHURCH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 9, 2016

MANAMA, Bahrain — The British navy seized more than a ton of high-grade hashish off the south coast of Oman on Tuesday, the Royal Navy said in a release.

A U.S. P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft assisted in the seizure by helping the British destroyer HMS Defender identify the suspect vessel from among fishing and other vessels, a Combined Maritime Forces release said.

A boarding team searched the dhow and found 51 bales of hashish, each weighing 20 kilograms (44 pounds). The value is estimated to have a street value in Western Europe of about 5.6 million British pounds ($8.10 million).

The Defender was participating in counternarcotics and counterterrorist operations for the Combined Maritime Forces.

Last month, Australian frigate HMAS Darwin and French frigate Nivose seized more than a ton of heroin in international waters in the Indian Ocean, according to the Combined Maritime Forces.

Drug and weapons trafficking is common in a region with some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

U.S. and international naval forces have also made a few high value weapons seizures in recent months, including a seizure of AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and .50-caliber machine guns in March. U.S. officials said the weapons originated in Iran and were intended for Houthi Rebels in Yemen.

Combined Maritime Forces is a 31-nation partnership focused on maritime security in 3.2 million square miles of international waters.

church.chris@stripes.com
Twitter: @CChurchStripes

British navy destroyer HMS Defender leads a formation of vessels operating as part of the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise in April, 2016. The Defender seized over a metric ton of high-grade hashish off the south coast of Oman on Tuesday, June 7, 2016.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ROYAL NAVY

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