NO ESCAPE:  Electronics technician Adam Cook (left), electronics technician Dylan Canderle (centre) and boatswain's mate Lydia Ratu Kavoa label and bag parcels of seized narcotics on a smugglinng vessel in the Middle East.
NO ESCAPE: Electronics technician Adam Cook (left), electronics technician Dylan Canderle (centre) and boatswain's mate Lydia Ratu Kavoa label and bag parcels of seized narcotics on a smugglinng vessel in the Middle East. LSIS Tom Gibson

Warship in $124m drugs bust

ROYAL Australian Navy frigate HMAS Warramunga's crew has seized another 414kg of heroin valued in excess of $124million during an operation in the Western Indian Ocean.

Warramunga has now seized and destroyed narcotics from seven vessels since deploying to the Middle East in November 2017.

This totalled 11.5 tonnes of hashish and 1.5 tonnes of heroin that have been valued in excess of $1billion.

The ship's Seahawk helicopter crew detected the smuggling vessel while conducting surveillance late on February 1, in an operation planned by the Australian-led Combined Task Force 150(CTF 150).

The subsequent boarding by Warramunga's crew located the narcotics.

Commanding Officer of HMAS Warramunga, Dugald Clelland, said the ship's seventh seizure had achieved a significant milestone for Australian maritime operations.

"As a result of this latest seizure, Warramunga has now taken more than $1billion of narcotics out of circulation, meaning the funds raised from this sale are no longer available for use by terrorist organisations around the world,” he said.

The Commander of CTF 150, Commodore Mal Wise, said the ship's ongoing success was the result of close co-operation between the ship's crew and the Australian-Canadian planning team at CTF 150.

"The team on land and at sea has worked well to identify and search vessels of interest in a large geographic area, dealing a series of significant blows to the drug trade that funds violent extremists,” he said.

The narcotics were transferred to Warramunga and disposed at sea.

This is Warramunga's third deployment to the Middle East region, and is the 66th rotation of a RAN vessel in the region since 1990.

Operation Manitou is the Australian Government's contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region.

Combined Taskforce 150 is one of three task forces operating under Combined Maritime Forces. Australia assumed command the Combined Task Force 150 in December 2017.

Seizures

December 27-29, 2017: hashish, eight tonnes; heroin, 69kg (three vessels hauled)

January 3, 2018: hashish, 3.5 tonnes

January 7: heroin, 111kg

January 24: heroin, 915kg

February 1: heroin, 414kg



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