Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat has seized more than 900 kilos of heroin worth approximately $279 million* during two boarding operations that took place between 21 and 23 December 2018 as part of Operation Manitou.
Ballarat conducted flag verification checks by boarding vessels of interest, under the direction of the Combined Maritime Forces’ (CMF) Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 in international waters in the Arabian Sea.
The fishing vessels, known as dhows, were believed to be engaging in illegal activity.
Boarding teams discovered and seized illegal narcotics on both dhows.
165 kilos of heroin was found on the first dhow, and 766kg on a second.
The drugs were transferred to Ballarat for disposal.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Ballarat Commander Paul Johnson said a thorough search by the boarding parties uncovered a large quantity of heroin intended for distribution around the world.
“By keeping these illegal narcotics out of the hands of those who exploit others, we improve the lives of those in the region,” Commander Johnson said.
“The crew is well prepared for these activities and I am glad that they have been able to showcase their professionalism in supporting security in this complex maritime environment.”
Commander Australian Forces in the Middle East Rear Admiral Jaimie Hatcher said the drug seizures supported Australia’s long-term mission to ensure maritime security, stability and prosperity in the region.
“This operation will impact on the flow of narcotics around the world and the use of drug money to fund extremist organisations,” Rear Admiral Hatcher said.
“This is a promising start to Ballarat’s work here and the crew should be very pleased with this excellent result.”
These are the first seizures Ballarat has made since starting operations in the Middle East Region in November.
*Note: This calculation is a based on the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Illicit Drug Data Report 2015–16 figures for Cannabis Resin (Hashish) @ AUD$50,000 per kilo (p215) and Heroin @ AUD$300,000 per kilo (p216).