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Friday, October 11, 2013

Lynx Vital to Counter Drug Trafficking Operations in the Caribbean

By Andrew Drwiega, International Bureau Chief

The Lynx helicopter onboard the UK’s Royal Naval ship HMS Lancaster has been busy helping to seize drugs in the Caribbean following a couple of successful operations during early October.

The Lynx Mk8, on 815 Naval Air Squadron, is one of the main assets on HMS Lancaster, a Type 23 frigate. The recent anti-drug operations just days apart resulted in a street value haul of $92.4 million (£58 million) worth of 400 kg of cocaine combined with 1.2 tons of marijuana. 

The Lynx is used for reconnaissance away from the ship and to pursue and intercept the high-speed boats used by drug smugglers in the Caribbean. The Royal Navy operates in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard within the Caribbean.

While on patrol the Lynx detected a speedboat that, once aware of the helicopter, dropped 45 packages of marijuana over the side. Although in the middle of a storm, these were recovered and the speedboat harried all through the night until it entered Costa Rican waters, where the crew were arrested.

The second haul, just days later, again involved the helicopter which was called to investigate a speedboat spotted by a Canadian tanker (with U.S. Coast Guard officials onboard). Again the crew began dumping 17 large packages into the sea but did not escape as a sniper in the helicopter shot and disabled the engines.

Said Commander Steve Moorhouse, HMS Lancaster’s commanding officer: “The level of cooperation that exists between units and nations working with the Joint Interagency Task Force [Operation Martillo] is second to none.”  

During its deployment the warship has been involved in six operations to seize drugs. During September £3.5m of marijuana was intercepted, while £100m of cocaine was seized in August.

Related: Military News

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