Combined Maritime Forces seize over 800 kg of drugs in Indian Ocean


A French ship operating in support of a Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) task force has seized 456 kg of methamphetamine and 364 kg heroin in the Indian Ocean, marking the third CMF drugs seizure in the last two months.

While operating in direct support of CMF’s Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150), the French Ship Floréal, a Floréal-class frigate, captured the drugs from a suspicious vessel as part of a counter-narcotics operation in the Northern Indian Ocean on 18 November, CMF said.

The seizure occurred on a route commonly known for drug smuggling, and the narcotics were openly visible on the stateless vessel.

“In less than two months, CTF 150 has successfully intercepted over two tons of methamphetamine and hashish, and over 300 kg of heroin,” said the task force’s Commander, Rear Admiral Sulieman Alfakeeh of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces. “I would like to thank all of the sailors from our partner navies, as well as my staff at CTF 150 for making these operations a success, and stopping these drugs from contributing to the funding of criminal activity and terrorism.”

This operation is the third CMF drug bust since October, with Floréal seizing over 1.5 tons of hashish worth $8 million on 8 November, and the Royal Navy ship HMS Montrose seizing 458 kg of methamphetamine in what remains CMF’s largest methamphetamine seizure to date.

“Despite the impact and challenges associated with COVID-19, Rear Admiral Alfakeeh has ensured CTF 150 maintained a vigilant watch and enhanced maritime security resulting in these successful narcotics seizures,” said Vice Admiral Samuel Paparo, CMF Commander.

To mitigate the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19, the boarding team took the necessary precautions to decontaminate all personnel and contraband following the seizure.

In addition to conducting maritime security operations, ships operating in support of CMF have been active in supporting legitimate mariners at sea in recent weeks. In October the USS Winston S Churchill assisted an Iranian-flagged motor vessel in distress while in support of CTF 150. Meanwhile, the Japanese Ship Ariake, operating under a CTF 151 tasking, worked with the French Ship Jean Bart to provide the medical evacuation of an injured mariner.

The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) is a multinational maritime partnership which exists to counter illicit non-state actors on the high seas, promoting security, stability and prosperity in the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman. CTF 150 operates to disrupt and deny criminal and terrorist organizations operating outside of the Arabian Gulf, to ensure that legitimate commercial shipping can transit the region, free from non-state threats. CTF 150 is currently led by the Royal Saudi Naval Force, the second time that the country’s Navy has led the task force.