Commander Combined Task Force (CCTF) 150, Commodore Malcolm Wise Royal Australian Navy, has been a welcomed addition to the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) side event “Countering Maritime Heroin Flows in East Africa”.

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The event was well attended with high level representatives from across the globe including European Union, Southern African Development Community and regional countries including Tanzania, Mozambique and Sri Lanka. The event highlighted the transnational crime syndicates’ expansive and increasing narcotics smuggling operations from the Makran Coast to East African countries and then further around the world.

Australian led CTF 150 was commended for its ongoing efforts in maritime interdiction operations which has seen the seizure of over 30 tonnes of hashish and over 3.1 tonnes of heroin in the last 6 months, valued at almost $1.9 billion, that would have likely funded terrorist activities. It was well understood that the problem cannot be addressed by any one organisation or country alone and that a cooperative, coordinated, regional approach is required.

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As a strong regional influence, UNODC executes a number of programs aimed at fighting organized crime in the Indian Ocean and East Africa, across a broad spectrum of areas including increasing maritime law enforcement capability, prosecutorial and judicial training, countering violent extremism, prisoner rehabilitation and maritime Visit Board Search and Seizure training.

Combined with maritime operations by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), the European Union, and regional efforts of maritime domain awareness and information sharing, the collective regional efforts are having an impact on the flow of narcotics into East Africa and therefore a reduction in financial flows to terrorist organisations.

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The UNODC Head of the Global Maritime Crime Programme, Mr Alan Cole remarked on the close cooperation and trust between UNODC and CMF in fighting narcotics trafficking, “UNODC has been working closely with CMF and other international naval and policing organizations to make life as difficult as possible for those who use the Indian Ocean to move drugs and fund terrorism.  We are all keenly aware of the misery this trade brings in the region and beyond and will continue our efforts to put a stop to it”.

The combined Australian Canadian CTF 150 team will handover to a combined UK, New Zealand and French team on 24 May 2018.