Canadian warship makes record-setting heroin seizure on Arabian Sea

A Canadian warship has seized an estimated $23 million in heroin and methamphetamine off the coast of Oman, a record-setting haul for the multinational Combined Maritime Forces coalition that was founded in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Victoria-based frigate HMCS Calgary intercepted two vessels suspected of smuggling drugs on the Arabian Sea on April 23 and 24.

A search of the first vessel turned up 1,286 kilograms of heroin – the most ever seized by a coalition vessel – while a search of the second boat yielded 360 kilograms of methamphetamine, according to a statement from the Combined Maritime Forces.

The U.S.-led maritime coalition says the combined value of the drugs is over $23.2 million, adding that drug-trafficking profits in the region are often used to finance terrorism.

The Royal Canadian Navy assumed control of the Combined Maritime Forces’ operations on the Arabian Sea, known as Combined Task Force 150, on January 27. In that time, participating navies from Europe, Australia, the United States and the Middle East have racked up more than a dozen successful anti-trafficking operations.

“I’m speaking for everyone on HMCS Calgary when I say it’s a great feeling to have made two substantial busts so early into our operation,” said Cmdr. Mark O'Donohue, commanding officer of the Calgary, which began operations in the region on April 15.

“It’s fantastic to see that pay off and to know we are contributing to the interruption of a revenue stream that is being used to fund terrorism,” O'Donohue added.

HMCS Calgary is joined on the deployment by approximately 50 members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and a CP-140 long-range patrol plane.

The Combined Maritime Forces partnership was established in February 2002 as a temporary coalition in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It has since grown to include counter-drug-trafficking and commercial shipping security operations.