Joint Australia-New Zealand op makes 915kg heroin haul

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion flies past HMAS Warramunga's boarding team during an operation in the Western Indian Ocean. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

A New Zealand Defence Force aircraft and an Australian Navy frigate joined forces in the Western Indian Ocean to interdict 915 kilos of heroin worth AUD$274 million.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 aircraft detected a suspicious vessel on January 23 prompting a boarding and investigation by the crew in Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Warramunga on January 24.

The illegal drugs were transferred to Warramunga for disposal at sea.

HMAS Warramunga’s crew made the drug seizure while deployed to operation Manitou which is part of the Australian-led Combined Task Force 150.

Over the past two months Warramunga’s crew has seized and destroyed more than 11.5 tonnes of hashish and over one tonne of heroin, valued in excess of $900 million.

Commander of Australian Defence Force personnel in the Middle East, Rear Admiral Jaimie Hatcher, RAN, said the latest operation highlighted the significant contribution both Australia and New Zealand make to maritime security in the region.

“Warramunga has now interdicted six vessels carrying illegal narcotics since November,” Rear Admiral Hatcher said.

“This operation highlights the important role played by partner nations, as part of the Combined Maritime Forces, in increasing maritime security in the Middle East and Western Indian Ocean,” he said.

This is Warramunga’s third deployment to the Middle East Region, and is the 66th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel in the region since 1990.

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