HMAS Ballarat seizes over six tonnes of narcotics in six days
Royal Australian Navy Frigate HMAS Ballarat has seized a total of 6,828kg of narcotics in a six-day period worth a regional wholesale value of over $3.5m (USD) whilst deployed to the Middle East working as part of the Pakistan led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150), the Combined Maritime Forces website (CMF) stated.
HMAS Ballarat’s latest seizure took place on 7th June 2019 and was the eighth such seizure since the Pakistan Navy resumed command of CTF 150 in April. HMAS Ballarat has been operating in the Arabian Sea where she is detecting and boarding suspect vessels, usually dhows. Commander Paul Johnson, Commanding Officer of HMAS Ballarat, said: “These boardings are essential to achieving maritime security in the region. Our goal is to disrupt the sources of funding for terrorism and deny the narcotics trade in the Middle East.”
He continued, “The team has been working hard to track, intercept and board these vessels in some difficult conditions. Stopping illegal activities in international waters is one of the main aims of CTF 150, the maritime security Combined Task Force of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).” Since the Pakistan Navy took command of CTF 150 in April 2019, the crew of HMAS Ballarat has discovered and subsequently destroyed, quantities of heroin, hashish, and methamphetamines hidden onboard the dhows, worth a regional wholesale value of $7.64m (USD).
HMAS Ballarat has been operating in the Gulf since November 2018 and has conducted 15 boardings during this time. These latest interceptions take her total haul since arriving to just under 21 tonnes of drugs – roughly the weight of ten rhinoceros – worth a regional wholesale value of almost $25m (USD).