An Australian frigate seized nearly 1,300 pounds of heroin during a weekend interdiction off the coast of East Africa.
The Royal Australian Navy estimated the street value of the drug at $520 million. The ship, the HMAS Newcastle, was patrolling Middle Eastern waters as part of Combined Task Force 150, a multinational naval force focused on counterterrorism in the Middle East, when it intercepted a dhow, boarded and discovered the drugs.
The seizure adds to another 1,600 pounds of heroin seized by the Newcastle during four boardings off East Africa in recent weeks. Many of the smugglers are attempting to enter Tanzania when captured, according to a CTF-150 news release.
The Newcastle is Australia’s contribution to combined naval operations in the Middle East, under the government’s Operation Manitou. The ship is part of a 30-nation Combined Maritime Forces that patrol the region with three task forces: CTF-150; CTF-151, which focuses on combating piracy; and CTF-152, which deploys for Persian Gulf security.
The Combined Maritime Force is headquartered at the U.S. Navy base in Bahrain and led by U.S. 5th Fleet commander Vice Adm. John Miller.
Other nations operating with the Newcastle as part of CTF-150 are New Zealand, France and the United Kingdom.