Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Newcastle patrolling with the Combined Maritime Forces in the Middle East Region has seized another 581kg of illegal narcotics with an estimated street value of approximately $520 million.
The half-tonne heroin haul is Newcastle’s fifth in two months and comes on the back of her recent 724kg narcotics seizure.
Acting Commander of Australia’s Joint Task Force 633 Brigadier Nagy Sorial said the latest haul was the second largest in Combined Maritime Forces history. Since February 2014, Australian ships assigned to JTF633 have seized more than 4 tonnes of heroin.
“The weekend’s find made Australia’s maritime contribution to Combined Maritime Forces one of the world’s most effective current heroin interdiction forces,” Brigadier Sorial said.
“To date HMAS Newcastle’s total seizures for Operation MANITOU is just over 1.3 tonnes of heroin valued at approximately $1.114 billion.”
HMAS Newcastle intercepted the stateless dhow off the east African coast where her boarding party uncovered the hidden narcotics onboard.
Newcastle’s Boarding Officer Lieutenant Gideon Watkin said the boarding was part of Combined Maritime Forces counter terrorism operations.
“Our haul today validates our mission and continues to demonstrate Newcastle’s effectiveness as a result of continued teamwork and dedicated training,” LEUT Watkin said.
Newcastle’s Commanding Officer Commander Dominic MacNamara spoke of his crew’s continued success since joining Operation MANITOU.
“HMAS Newcastle continues to contribute to the maritime security of the Middle East Region as part of the Combined Maritime Forces,” Commander MacNamara said.
“Newcastle has again succeeded because of the professional manner in which they have carried out their duties and their meticulous observation of suspicious activity.
“Today we’ve stopped more than 581kg of narcotics from reaching the streets and the resulting proceeds from feeding back to terrorist organisations.
HMAS Newcastle is the 60th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel to the Middle East region since the first Gulf War in 1990
For information about Australia’s Operation MANITOU visit: http://www.defence.gov.au/Operations/OpManitou/default.asp