THE combination of a Royal Navy-led task force and an Australian warship have delivered a £60m blow to the international terrorism – the second major bust in a month.
Just three weeks after the largest heroin seizure on the high seas in history – more than a tonne of the drug – HMAS Darwin pounced on a dhow in the Indian Ocean.
The vessel was found in international waters, some 40 miles off Somalia during a concerted operation by Combined Task Force 150.
That operation, led by the Royal Navy’s Commodore Jeremy Blunden, is directed at disrupting drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean – profits from the illegal trade known to provide funding for terrorist organisations including Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The task force has dealt seven blows to that illegal trade this year alone, the latest of which came when the Australian frigate intercepted the suspect vessel.
Darwin’s boarding team subsequently discovered heroin hidden in 20 bags, each weighing between 20 and 25 kilogrammes.
The total haul came to 449kg – with a street value in Britain of just over £60m.
Those drugs were ferried back to HMAS Darwin for further analysis and destruction.
“This is the seventh significant seizure by the Combined Maritime Forces this year – representing a further blow to the drug smuggling network,” said Commodore Blunden.
“The interception of heroin traffic is an important part of the work of the Forces as some of the profit from the trafficking of heroin goes to extremist and terrorist organisations.
“Once again I congratulate Commander Morrison and his team in HMAS Darwin on their exceptional work.”
HMAS Darwin’s Commanding Officer, Commander Terry Morrison, said the seizure removed a major source of funding for terrorist and criminal networks.
The Darwin-CTF150 team have accounted for more than £200m of heroin being seized in the past month - in late April Darwin bagged the largest ever haul of heroin on the high seas, 1,032kg – worth more than £140m on the streets of the UK.
“I am very proud of the hard work and determination of the ship’s company in HMAS Darwin during a particularly long and challenging interdiction,” said Commander Morrison.
“Due to the hard work of many previous ships deploying to this region, we have been very successful in intercepting illegal narcotics smuggling.”
Combined Task Force 150 conducts maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean in order to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities, which terrorists use to fund or conceal their movements.
It’s one of three task forces working east of Suez – CTF152 promoting stability and security in the Gulf and CTF151 tackling piracy in the Indian Ocean – working under the banner of the Combined Maritime Forces.
The latter is a coalition of 30 nations dedicated to security across 2½ million square miles of international waters, which encompass some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.