Hendon MP Matthew Offord assists in £50m Belize drug bust
12:50pm Friday 26th August 2011

By Kate Jenkinson »

HENDON MP Matthew Offord is cracking down on local drug issues following his involvement in an Armed Forces operation in Belize, in which £50 million of illegal drugs were dumped.

As part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme off the coast of Honduras, Mr Offord and Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier witnessed the drug dumping in a collaborative operation between The Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Royal Navy, Royal Marines and US Coastguard Service.

The operation saw Mr Offord join a Lynx helicopter team chase down a suspicious boat, that dumped what is believed to be £50million worth of cocaine before being apprehended.

Mr Offord said the operation prevented millions of pounds worth of cocaine from flooding the UK.

“Smuggling drugs raises a significant amount of money which funds terrorist activities which are a direct threat to my constituents,” he said.

“In regard to drug use in Hendon itself, the operation highlights this fact to constituents who may not have considered the consequences of buying such drugs.”

As part of the scheme, Mr Offord received chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence training, firefighting and man-overboard training and flew in a Lynx helicopter.

He said the trip provided useful insight into international drugs trade.

“I meet with the police regularly and discuss crime, drugs, violence etc and have no doubt that I will discuss this further with the Borough Commander and his officers. I will also be seeking a meeting with the Drugs Squad at Colindale for them to appraise me of the situation locally and how drug crimes are being tackled."

"Drug addiction and the effects it has on family life is something that I have personal experience of and my participation in the operation was an extension of my concern."

Following critism of his absence in London after the riots from predecessor Andrew Dismore, Mr Offord defended the decision to remain abroad in a press release posted on his website: “The results of the actions I have been involved with will have a direct consequence in crime reduction on the streets of the Hendon constituency, London and other towns and cities in the UK,” it reads. “This type of illegal drug destroys lives and I am proud to have been a part of an operation that has disrupted the supply.”

Mr Offord also participated in the Royal Navy’s preparations for Hurricane season, and witnessed its implementation when Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall on August 20.

The Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme is a privately run programme to give Members of Parliament experience of the various services.

Its aim is to improve the quality of debate on military issues, by exposing its members to first-hand experience of the services.

The scheme is funded through corporate and private means and Mr Offord says he spent a significant amount of his own money on participating in this operation.