Royal Marines routinely bust drug smugglers disguised as fishermen

In a rare insight into their daring operations to disrupt heroin, crystal meth and hashish smuggling routes in the Gulf of Oman, a brave Commando said they are detecting more boats leaving Balochistan. The smugglers even know how to behave as the Royal Marines close in, and move to the front of their dhows and wait.

Lieutenant Wotton, whose full identity the Daily Express is protecting, said “they know the drill” and have been “boarded lots of times before.”

He revealed some lower paid smugglers will put in less effort to hide the drugs despite “expecting” to be caught.

The narcotics intercepted in the Gulf are around 80-90 per cent in purity and the vast majority are destined for Europe after being ‘cut’ in eastern Africa.

Royal Marines will often feel the hands of the suspected smugglers posing as fishermen, the Daily Express has been told. They say doing so can expose if someone is used to hauling nets in and out of water all day.

The brave Commando admitted the smugglers “escalate” their tactics whenever they feel the Royal Navy bearing down on them.

But elite troops from both the Royal Marines and the Royal Navy will be hoping to disrupt more smuggling routes in the coming weeks.

Any boat spotted that does not allow itself to be seen – through the Automatic Identification System used by the vast majority of maritime traffic – will be identified as suspicious and Royal Navy crews will make attempts to contact them by radio.

A Wildcat attack helicopter will hover miles away using long range cameras to assess the vessel, its route and its behaviour.

Royal Marines could then be ordered to intercept it and investigate for weapons and drugs.

Lt Wotton, 24, is one of the brave Commandos who boards boats suspected of being involved in smuggling operations in the Gulf of Oman.

He last night told the Daily Express how the smell of “wet wood” hits Commandos as they clamber onto small dhow boats typically used by smugglers.

But violence rarely breaks out.

Lt Wotton revealed: “When we get on a dhow, we will secure it and make sure the area is safe.

“That will look like a crew being taken to a certain area, keeping them there, searching and clearing the vessel to make sure there is no other threat.

“No matter whether it is a smuggling vessel or a fishing vessel, it is always different to getting onto a sailing boat in the UK. There is a lot of wet wood, that smell will hit you.

“You can tell by how they act. There will be less people onboard, but not always.”

The marine said the majority of suspected criminals are “fishermen who take a smuggler role part time”.

He said: “They usually know the drill, these smugglers, these fishermen who have smuggled narcotics, beer, anything, which is seen as needing smuggling.

“They have been boarded before a lot of the ones that are carrying something. Even without you having to instruct them to move to the front, or in a safe location before you board, they know the kick and are al Norway issues warning as Putin’s spies to target critical UK gas

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