Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, part of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), has continued its impressive series of seizures by interdicting 377 bags of heroin weighing 414 kilograms on 1 February 2018. This is the fifth confiscation of drugs from a total of seven vessels since November 2017 by CTF 150, currently under Australian leadership, supported by a combined Australian and Canadian staff.
In an operation planned by CTF 150 headquarters, the Seahawk helicopter from Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Warramunga detected a suspicious dhow. Currently in support of CTF 150, HMAS Warramunga quickly approached to investigate and board the dhow. The dhow was apprehended in international waters in the Indian Ocean. Once it was suspected that the crew may be involved in illegal activity, CTF 150 was authorised to conduct a non-destructive search of the dhow. During that search, the boarding team from HMAS Warramunga located 377 bags of heroin, weighing 414 kilograms and valued at almost $100 million USD. The illegal drugs were then recorded and transferred to Warramunga for safe disposal at sea.
Commander of CTF 150, Commodore Mal Wise, Royal Australian Navy, emphasised that Warramunga’s ongoing success was the result of close cooperation between the ship’s crew and the Australian-Canadian planning team at CTF 150 headquarters. He said “The team at CTF 150 headquarters work seamlessly with our crews at sea to identify vessels of interest in a large geographical area. Working together, we can accomplish much more than would be possible individually. Through this series of seizures, we have dealt a significant blow to the Western Indian Ocean drug trade.”
This is the fifth interdiction of illegal drugs by CTF 150 since Australia took command in November 2017. Multinational assets in support of CTF 150 have seized over 11 tonnes of hashish and 1.5 tonnes of heroin in the last 3 months, valued in excess of $820 million USD, over 1 billion AUD*. Following this interdiction, HMAS Warramunga will continue on to Exercise Cutlass Express 2018 in the Seychelles. This is an annual exercise sponsored by the United States Africa Command to advance maritime security and promote regional collaboration. CTF 150, representing CMF, is participating in Cutlass Express 2018 to mentor regional and partner navies in order to build an enduring capability in maritime security throughout the waters of the Western Indian Ocean and Middle East.
Media note: *This calculation is based on the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Illicit Drug Data Report 2015–16 figures for Cannabis Resin (Hashish) at $50 AUD /$39 USD per gram (p215) and Heroin at $300,000 AUD / $235,000 USD per kilogram (p 216).