Regina makes second drug bust

HMCS Regina’s crew poses with over 3,000 kilograms of narcotics seized from a dhow on April 15 during Operation Artemis in the Pacific Ocean. Photo by Corporal Stuart Evans, Borden Imaging Services

HMCS Regina’s crew poses with over 3,000 kilograms of narcotics seized from a dhow on April 15 during Operation Artemis in the Pacific Ocean. Photo by Corporal Stuart Evans, Borden Imaging Services

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

HMCS Regina and crew completed a second sizable drug bust following the seizure of approximately 3,000 kilograms of hashish of the coast of Oman.

The Canadian warship is participating in Operation Artemis and the Canadian Armed Forces Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, part of an international counter-terrorism and maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean involving the combined maritime forces of 33 nations.

The latest seizure unfolded April 15 after a suspicious fishing vessel was spotted in an area of the Indian Ocean known as the Hash Highway.

“We had some intelligence that we might need to go closer to the Yemeni coast,” said Commander Jacob French, Commanding Officer. “So we took off at high speed towards that direction, and saw a dhow that matched the description we received. We tried to hail the dhow, but the vessel didn’t respond. As a result, we deployed our Naval Tactical Operations Group to board and investigate further.”

The Naval Tactical Operations Group (NTOG) boarded the dhow (a local fishing vessel) and found 150 bags of hashish. The narcotics were transferred to Regina where they were subsequently destroyed.

“I am extremely proud of the hard work of our ship’s company and we remain ready to continue our mission with the Combined Maritime Forces Coalition,” said Cdr French. “Our efforts are ensuring the funding from illegal narcotics is staying out of the hands of criminal and terrorist organizations.”

Regina’s efforts are being assisted by Naval Replenishment Unit (NRU) Asterix, “who is playing a vital role in Canadian naval operations by providing us with endurance,” said Commander French. “Asterix is helping us achieve our mission objectives by keeping us in the CTF 150 theatre of operations for extended periods.”

The CTF 150 area of operations is a massive area of ocean that is approximately 8.2 million square kilometers, encompassing the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin and Southern Red Sea.

Another crucial component of their efforts is the work of Royal Canadian Navy’s NTOG specialized boarding party. The members of the NTOG are trained in hand-to-hand combat, improvised explosive device identification, close quarters fighting and tactical shooting. They have a dangerous job to do but are always mindful that many of the vessels they are boarding are owned by legitimate fisherman who are living in difficult circumstances explains Regina Public Affairs Officer Lt(N) Linda Coleman.

“The individuals smuggling the illicit cargo are not terrorists,” said Lt (N) Coleman. “They’re often just fisherman trying to support their families and have agreed to smuggle illicit goods due to poverty and instability in their home regions.”

The latest seizure is Regina’s second since joining Artemis at the end of March. On April 7, more than 2,500 kilograms of hashish were seized from a fishing vessel in a similar area of the Arabian Sea. 119 bags of hashish were located in the ice hold of the vessel, transferred to Regina and subsequently destroyed.

The methods used to destroy narcotics vary depending on the type of narcotics, the environment and weather says Lt(N) Coleman. In this case, the hashish was removed from its plastic wrapping and dumped overboard.

Regina will remain in the region until the end of May. 

Filed Under: Top Stories

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