Another 414 kilograms of heroin, valued at over $124 million, has been seized during a Royal Australian Navy operation in the western Indian Ocean.
RAN frigate HMAS Warramunga made the seizure, bringing the frigate's seizure total to 11.5 tonnes of hashish and 1.5 tonnes of heroin since deploying to the Middle East in November. The value of the seizures now equates to over $1 billion*.
For its latest seizure, the ship’s Seahawk helicopter crew detected the smuggling vessel while conducting surveillance late on 1 February 2018, in an operation planned by the Australian-led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150). The subsequent boarding by Warramunga’s crew located the narcotics.
The Commanding Officer of HMAS Warramunga, Commander Dugald Clelland, said the ship’s seventh seizure had achieved a significant milestone for Australian maritime operations.
"As a result of this latest seizure, Warramunga has now taken more than $1 billion of narcotics out of circulation, meaning the funds raised from this sale are no longer available for use by terrorist organisations around the world," he said.
The Commander of CTF 150, Commodore Mal Wise, said the ship’s ongoing success was the result of close co-operation between the ship’s crew and the Australian-Canadian planning team at CTF 150.
"The team on land and at sea has worked well to identify and search vessels of interest in a large geographic area, dealing a series of significant blows to the drug trade that funds violent extremists," he said.
The narcotics were transferred to Warramunga and disposed at sea.
This is Warramunga’s third deployment to the Middle East region, and is the 66th rotation of a RAN vessel in the region since 1990.
Operation MANITOU is the Australian government's contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region.
Combined Taskforce 150 is one of three task forces operating under Combined Maritime Forces. Australia assumed command the Combined Task Force 150 in December 2017.
Summary of vessels interdicted with drugs by Warramunga in the 66th rotation:
• 27-29 December 2017: hashish, 8 tonnes; heroin, 69 kilograms (three vessels interdicted over this period)
• 3 January 2018: hashish, 3.5 tonnes
• 7 January 2018: heroin, 111 kilograms
• 24 January 2018: heroin, 915 kilograms
• 1 February 2018: heroin, 414 kilograms
*Note: This calculation is a based on the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Illicit Drug Data Report 2015-16 figures for cannabis resin (hashish) @ AUD$50 per gram (p215) and heroin @ AUD$300,000 per kilogram (p216).