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NZDF Helps Seize $300 Million of Heroin in High Seas Bust

The New Zealand Defence Force has helped an international naval coalition seize about NZ $300 million of heroin from traffickers in the Western Indian Ocean.
The New Zealand Defence Force has helped an international naval coalition seize about NZ $300 million of heroin from traffickers in the Western Indian Ocean.

26 January 2018

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has helped an international naval coalition seize about NZ $300 million of heroin from traffickers in the Western Indian Ocean.

Working on surveillance information from a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-3K2 Orion aircraft, crew from Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Warramunga intercepted a fishing boat and found a cache of 915 kg of heroin on Wednesday.

Two Royal New Zealand Navy sailors, posted on exchange on the Australian frigate, drove the sea boats to transport Warramunga’s boarding party and the cache of illegal narcotics seized.

“This latest seizure is the product of the collaboration between the NZDF and the Australian Navy, and demonstrates the value of having a coalition of countries like the Combined Maritime Forces work together to promote maritime security,” said Squadron Leader Adam O’Rourke, who is leading the NZDF’s 55-member maritime surveillance detachment in the Middle East.

“One of the rewards of being part of this mission is knowing that the work of the team has a direct impact on illegal activity, by taking away terrorists’ income streams. It’s great to know that our contribution makes a difference.”

The Orion had tracked the boat, which is believed to be bound for Africa, and stayed in the area while Warramunga’s crew inspected it. The narcotics were found stashed in the hold of the boat.

The NZDF sent an Orion and the detachment to the Middle East in February 2017 to work as part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) for 12 months. The Orion has flown more than 900 hours on 119 missions so far.

Between April and June 2017, tip-offs from a RNZAF Orion led the CMF to bust three vessels trafficking 650 kg of heroin worth about $400 million in the Indian Ocean.

“This latest seizure is a credit to both the NZDF and the Australian Navy and highlights the skill and professionalism of our personnel,” Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy, the Acting Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said.

“More importantly, the fantastic result demonstrates how the NZDF directly supports the multinational effort to defeat terrorism and prevent drug trafficking through the CMF.”

The CMF is a 32-nation naval partnership that promotes maritime security and seeks to defeat terrorism and prevent piracy and the trafficking of people and drugs across about 8.2 million square kilometres of international waters.


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