NARCOTICS worth almost $492 million were seized at sea by a Bahrain-based task force in the past two weeks, it has been revealed.
Raids were carried out on suspected dhows in the Arabian Sea by the Royal Australian Navy frigate, HMAS Warramunga.
The operations were carried out under the direction of the Combined Maritime Forces’ (CMF’s) Australian-led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150).
In the latest incident, heroin worth $26m was seized.
“HMAS Warramunga seized 111kg of heroin valued at $26m during operations in the Arabian Sea on January 7,” said a CMF statement.
“This is the third successful interdiction for Warramunga in the past two weeks, taking the ship’s total seizures to more than 11.5 tonnes of hashish and 180kg of heroin with a total approximate street value of $492m.”
The smuggling of drugs on the high seas has long been suspected to be related to funding terrorist activities.
The second seizure by the ship took place on January 2 during a joint patrol with the UK’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Fort Rosalie when a stateless dhow was tracked.
Illicit drugs valued at more than $142m were seized.
“The Royal Navy helicopter was able to guide us to the suspect vessel that Warramunga’s boarding party searched at night, in difficult conditions,” said Warramunga Commanding Officer Commander Dugald Clelland.
“The boarding party did a first-rate job and was able to locate and seize more than three-and-a-half tonnes of illegal narcotics.”
Earlier last month, on December 28, more than 390 bags, each weighing 20kg, of narcotics were seized in the Gulf, with a street value of around $325m.
This included eight tonnes of hashish and 69kg of heroin and was the largest haul of hashish seized by an Australian ship in the Middle East maritime security operations.
CMF ships seized 22.67 tonnes of narcotics at sea last year that required close investigation of every compartment and space on the suspect vessel.
CMF is a multinational naval partnership of 32 countries with headquarters located at the US Naval Forces Central Command and the US Fifth Fleet Naval Support Activity in Juffair, Bahrain.
It is tasked with promoting security, stability and prosperity across nearly 3.2 million square miles of international waters, encompassing some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.