The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) have continued their success against illegal narcotics and made another seizure of heroin off the coast of East Africa. This latest haul of 216 kilograms of high purity heroin has an estimated value of approximately US$148 million.

Operation Manitou
HMAS Melbourne intercepts a fishing vessel suspected of smuggling illegal narcotics. A subsequent search of the vessel revealed over 216 kilograms of high-grade heroin

It is the third recent success for Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Melbourne whilst on patrol under the Command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150. The ship conducted a routine boarding operation of a small vessel known as a dhow, which was acting in a suspicious manner consistent with unlawful activity. Based on the information gathered, CMF approved a search of the vessel which resulted in the discovery of the heroin hidden on-board.

Commodore Jaimie Hatcher, AM, Royal Australian Navy, who is in command of CTF 150, praised the efforts of HMAS Melbourne and said: “While it is very pleasing to get a result within a week of assuming command of CTF 150, the ultimate success lies with the skill of HMAS Melbourne’s crew, in particular her boarding teams.”

Operation Manitou
The drugs were discovered hidden onboard a fishing vessel intercepted by HMAS Melbourne. After being seized the illegal narcotics were transferred to HMAS Melbourne for analysis and disposal at sea.

Once the search was complete, the bags of heroin were moved to the flight deck of HMAS Melbourne for analysis. The seized drugs were subsequently destroyed at sea and in accordance with procedures, the vessel and crew were released and allowed to continue their journey.

Operation Manitou
The sized drugs on the deck of HMAS Melbourne.

HMAS Melbourne’s Commanding Officer Bill Waters said that the intercept was a great success for the ship and her boarding teams. He added: “It also highlights the work of our support agencies ashore that provide us the vital intelligence needed to be in the right place at the right time. It’s a big ocean out here, so to get a result it’s a team effort from a number of nations and organisations.”

This latest haul of heroin brings the total seized by CMF close to 8 tonnes. CMF is focused on disrupting the trade of narcotics, which is a key income source that terrorist organisations use to fund their activities.