Tag Archives: counter-narcotics

MANAMA, Bahrain – One of Combined Maritime Forces’ three task forces has seized a record amount of illegal drugs in 2021, which included narcotics confiscated during eight successful interdictions in the Indian Ocean last month. Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 has seized more than $189 million worth of illegal drugs (at regional wholesale prices) during counter-narcotics operations at sea in 2021. The drugs seized this year have a higher total value than the amount of drugs the task force interdicted in the previous four years combined. CTF 150 successfully seized and destroyed 6,550 kilograms of heroin, 4,052 kilograms of methamphetamine and 56,834 kilograms of hashish so far this year, equating to over three times more methamphetamine than in any other year since 2016, and the largest amount of heroin since the task force’s establishment in 2002. The multinational partnership conducts maritime security and counter-terrorism operations at sea, outside the Arabian…

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The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Commander’s Conference took place in Bahrain on 2 Feb 16. The bi-annual conference brings together senior military representatives from CMF members, to update them on CMF’s achievements, assess operational effectiveness and discuss, in an open forum, ways of improving and developing CMF capabilities.

In his opening remarks, the Commander of the Combined Maritime Forces, Vice Admiral Donegan USN, highlighted the unique nature of CMF as a coalition and the complexities of the operating area.   He stressed the importance of maintaining the free flow of commerce, enabled by maintaining freedom of navigation through the strategically important choke points of the Bab el Mandeb Strait, the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal.

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Group photo of CMF members at the Commander’s Conference

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The multi-national Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) has reached an impressive milestone and seized in excess of eight tonnes of heroin since January 2013. This recent triumph confirms CMF as one of the most successful maritime security forces in the world.

The latest seizure was made by Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Melbourne and was the fourth drugs haul of their deployment. The Boxing Day discovery on a small vessel, known as a dhow, yielded 118 kilograms of high-grade heroin with an estimated value of US$ 82.8 million.* Once a thorough search of the dhow was completed by the ship’s boarding team the illegal narcotics were transferred to HMAS Melbourne for analysis and then destruction at sea.

HMAS Melbourne Narcotics seizure
HMAS Melbourne Ship’s Company load onboard an illegal cargo of narcotics. HMAS Melbourne intercepted the fishing vessel in the Indian Ocean and a subsequent search of the vessel revealed over 118 kilograms of high-grade heroin valued at AUD$108.8 million.

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Special Agent Patrick Price brought a special brand of law enforcement to Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Melbourne while on patrol in the Arabian Sea.

Special Agent Patrick Price (left) of the United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) prepares to board a fishing dhow suspected of illegal drug smuggling in the Arabian Sea.
Special Agent Patrick Price (left) of the United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) prepares to board a fishing dhow suspected of illegal drug smuggling in the Arabian Sea.

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Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Melbourne, working for the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in the Middle East successfully intercepted a small cargo vessel, known as a dhow, smuggling 427 kilograms of heroin in the Indian Ocean, on 1 October 2015. The drugs, which have now been destroyed, had an estimated street value of $174 (US) million, a value based on an average purity of 60%, which is the approximate historic average seized in 2014.

HMAS Melbourne keeps watch over an intercepted dhow in the Indian Ocean. HMAS Melbourne's crew boarded the vessel and discovered 427kg of heroin that was confiscated and subsequently destroyed.
HMAS Melbourne keeps watch over an intercepted dhow in the Indian Ocean. HMAS Melbourne’s crew boarded the vessel and discovered 427kg of heroin that was confiscated and subsequently destroyed.

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In the last two months, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), through Combined Task Force (CTF)150, has put a real dent in the funding of terrorism, with the seizure and destruction of 1.7 tons of illegal narcotics off the east coast of Africa. While the ships involved in these interdictions are a highly visible element of the war on terrorism at sea, there are other agencies that are working behind the scenes and alongside the sailors, to make it all possible; one such agency is the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

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Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Newcastle has seized 138kg of high purity heroin on 3 July 2015 likley bound for Tanzania, with an estimated street value of approximately $US 85 million.

HMAS Newcastle tracks a dhow on 03 July 2014 off the East Coast of Africa and from which it siezed 138 kg of heroin worth an estimated street value of around $108 million.  *** Local Caption *** HMAS Newcastle is deployed in the Middle East Region on Operation MANITOU, Australia’s contribution to the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). The CMF undertakes patrols in the broader northwest Indian Ocean to both combat piracy and to intercept the trafficking of drugs that help fund international terrorism. The CMF also encourages regional cooperation to create a safer maritime environment. HMAS Newcastle is on her fifth deployment to the Middle East Region as is the 60th rotation of a RAN vessel since the first Gulf War in 1990.
HMAS Newcastle tracks a dhow on 03 July 2014 off the East Coast of Africa and from which it siezed 138 kg of heroin worth an estimated street value of around $108 million. HMAS Newcastle is deployed in the Middle East Region on Operation MANITOU, Australia’s contribution to the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).   This is Newcastle’s sixth successful heroin haul since being assigned to Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, at the end of April, for Maritime Security Operations in the Indian Ocean.

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Organised by the UNODC Country Office Pakistan in collaboration with the Government of Pakistan, the seminar was the first of its kind in bringing so many affected countries together to consider a ‘shared responsibility’ approach in combating drug networks and narcotics smuggling
Organised by the UNODC Country Office Pakistan in collaboration with the Government of Pakistan, the seminar was the first of its kind in bringing so many affected countries together to consider a ‘shared responsibility’ approach in combating drug networks and narcotics smuggling

Representatives from the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) attended the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Counter Narcotics Seminar and Workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 27 and 28 January 2015. The event aimed at enhancing awareness and aligning international efforts to combat the challenges posed by narcotics trafficking in the Middle East.

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The training supported all boarding teams in carrying their mission more effectively, identifying common mission tasks, including hazards, evaluating risk, decision making and boarding techniques

In an effort to support East African and Indian Ocean nations in enhancing their maritime security responses and information sharing on common maritime threats, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) personnel recently participated in multinational maritime security exercise Cutlass Express 2015.

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TOOW sailors transport narcotics to ship
TOOW sailors transport narcotics to ship

Royal Australian Navy warship HMAS Toowoomba operating as part of Pakistan-led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) has achieved her second successful drugs haul in 72 hours, stopping another batch of narcotics, worth $132million, reaching the streets.

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