Soldiers from 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment have intercepted more than 200 kilos of hashish in Helmand province.
The British Army personnel acted on an Afghan police request and used their Warrior armoured vehicles to race across the desert and reach a tractor and trailer that had been highlighted by the Afghans. On searching under some sacking in the trailer they found a stash of bags containing the drugs.
The Taliban use money from the illegal drugs trade to fund their operations and although UK forces do not actively target the drugs trade, the Afghan police were especially keen to arrest the driver of the tractor and destroy the crop.
Captain Rich Morgan-Evans, A Company’s battle captain, said:
As soon as we informed the Afghan police what we had found they immediately deployed a senior officer to arrest the individual and confiscate the drugs. They realise the damage that the sale of drugs does to security in Helmand and the police have been clamping down on it across the province.
Attacking the drugs trade is something the Afghan police are really keen to show that they are doing. They used to have a bad reputation but are fighting hard to change that perception. This find should really help the way the population looks at them.
A Company of 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment use the Warrior armoured fighting vehicle for patrols, and its versatility proved an advantage, enabling quick reaction force personnel to speed across the harsh desert terrain and stop the tractor before it managed to escape.
Private Callum Noone was one of the Warrior drivers. He said:
It was one of the most exciting things we have done since we arrived here in September.
We left our base at Lashkar Gah Durai and drove across country to catch the tractor, which was about 10 miles away. It took about 15 or 20 minutes to reach him.
Private Gavin Davies found the hashish. He said:
I got into the trailer and started rooting around when I discovered sack upon sack of drugs – the amount was incredible, like something out of a film.
The search also revealed 2 assault rifles and a pistol.
After reporting the drugs find to the Afghan police they sent a team led by a senior officer to arrest the suspect and confiscate all the drugs.
Sergeant Nicholls was the patrol commander. He said:
The Afghan police were really excited when we told them about the find; they are used to getting tens of kilograms, not 200 all in one go.