HMAS Melbourne interdicts second heroin shipment in 48 hours

Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) ship Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Melbourne has seized another 190 kilograms of pure heroin in the Indian ocean, 48 hours after seizing 353 kilograms, and less than three weeks after Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Toronto, a former CMF unit, seized 280 kilograms in the same area.

While conducting maritime security operations in the region under the command of the Australian-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, HMAS Melbourne located a suspicious vessel operating in the Indian ocean. HMAS Melbourne subsequently boarded the vessel and a subsequent search revealed 190 kilograms of heroin hidden onboard.

HMAS Melbourne's boarding party proceeding to intercept a suspicious dhow.

HMAS Melbourne’s boarding party proceeding to intercept a suspicious dhow.

Initial analysis indicates the seized heroin is pure, which correlates with laboratory test results from previous CMF seizures in the area. The narcotics were catalogued, before samples were taken for further analysis and the remainder promptly destroyed.

Commander Brian Schlegel, Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Commanding Officer, HMAS Melbourne, said: “The team here on Melbourne have worked hard during this long deployment and to have this success demonstrates that we have indeed made a difference in the region. During this deployment, Melbourne’s team has detained nine pirates, seized and destroyed 23.8 kilograms of methamphetamine and over half a ton of heroin. This is a good day for HMAS Melbourne and CMF, but not a good day for the drug smugglers.”

HMAS Melbourne's boarding party climb on board a suspicious dhow in the Middle East Area of Operations.

HMAS Melbourne’s boarding party climb on board a suspicious dhow in the Middle East Area of Operations.

Commodore Daryl Bates, RAN, Commander of CTF 150, said: “I am pleased that we are again able to publically demonstrate the good work that the Combined Maritime Forces are doing to deter terrorism and terrorist-related activities in the Middle East and Indian Ocean. Combined Maritime Forces units have now seized 1362.4 kilograms of heroin since Australia assumed command of Combined Task Force 150 in December 2013. Add to this the 24 kilograms of methamphetamines seized, and it is clear we are succeeding in our mission.”

He added: “The trafficking of illicit drugs in this region helps to fund international terrorism organisations and violent extremism. These successful narcotics interdictions demonstrate the benefits of the Combined Maritime Forces mission in the Middle East and Indian Ocean regions.”

Suspected heroin is destroyed by dispersal from the transom of HMAS Melbourne in the Middle East Area of Operations.

Suspected heroin is destroyed by dispersal from the transom of HMAS Melbourne in the Middle East Area of Operations.

CTF 150 is one of three task forces operating under CMF, a 30-nation professional maritime force, based in Bahrain. CTF 150 is mandated to maintain maritime security and conduct operations to disrupt and deter terrorism and terrorism-related activities, including narcotic trafficking, in the maritime regions of the Middle East and Indian Ocean.

About Combined Maritime Forces

CMF is a unique multi-national collective of like-minded nations, dedicated to promoting security and free flow of commerce across 3.2 million square miles of international waters in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin, the Indian Ocean and the Gulf. CMF’s main focus areas are disrupting terrorism, preventing piracy, reducing illegal activities, and promoting a safe maritime environment for all.
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