Australia-New Zealand Indian Ocean operation nets AUD$274 million in heroin

This article has photo gallery Published on Department of Defence (author), LSIS Tom Gibson (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU, HMAS Warramunga (F152), Drug interdiction

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion flies past HMAS Warramunga's boarding team during an operation in the Western Indian Ocean. (photo: LSIS Tom Gibson)
A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion flies past HMAS Warramunga's boarding team during an operation in the Western Indian Ocean.
HMAS Warramunga’s crew has conducted one of the largest drug seizures in Operation MANITOUs history as part of the Australian-led Combined Task Force 150.
In a joint counter-narcotics operation, the Royal Australian Navy and the New Zealand Defence Force seized 915 kilograms of heroin valued in excess of AUD$274 million.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 aircraft detected a suspicious vessel in the Western Indian Ocean on 23 January 2018, which was boarded and investigated by the crew in Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Warramunga on 24 January.
Over the past two months Warramunga’s crew has seized and destroyed more than 11.5 tonnes of hashish and over one tonne of heroin, valued in excess of $900 million.
Commander of Australian Defence Force personnel in the Middle East, Rear Admiral Jaimie Hatcher, RAN, said the latest operation highlighted the significant contribution both Australia and New Zealand make to maritime security in the region.
“Warramunga has now interdicted six vessels carrying illegal narcotics since November,” Rear Admiral Hatcher said.
This operation highlights the important role played by partner nations, as part of the Combined Maritime Forces, in increasing maritime security in the Middle East and Western Indian Ocean,” he said.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Warramunga, Commander Dugald Clelland said the operation was a team effort between close partners.
The RNZAF P-3 was able to identify the vessel and direct us to a successful boarding resulting in the seizure of a very significant quantity of illegal narcotics,” Commander Clelland said.
The illegal drugs were transferred to Warramunga for disposal at sea.
This is Warramunga’s third deployment to the Middle East Region, and is the 66th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy 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.
Summary of vessels interdicted with drugs by Warramunga in the 66th rotation:
  1. 27—29 December 2018: 8 tonnes hashish, 69kg heroin, (three vessels interdicted over this period)
  2. 3 January 2018: hashish, 3.5 tonnes
  3. 7 January 2018: heroin, 111kg
  4. 24 January: heroin, 915kg
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