Seychelles helps in $104 million drug bust at sea


04-April-2013

Besides “drawing on US and Seychellois expertise”, one of our coastguard officers who is on attachment during training abroad was involved in the bust but Nation was requested not to name him “for security reasons and given the nature of the operation”.

“Canadian warship HMCS Toronto made the seizure after boarding a suspect dhow on the high seas in the Indian Ocean off Zanzibar Island, Tanzania. When the crew searched the vessel, they found almost 500kg of heroin stowed in hidden compartments,” said a press release from the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Bahrain’s public affairs office.

“HMCS Toronto is currently under the command of the Australian-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 (CTF150) – one of the CMF’s three maritime task forces – who coordinated the operation. CTF 150’s commander Charles McHardie of the Royal Australian Navy said the seizure is proof that coordinated efforts can have a significant impact on narcotics smuggling, thereby denying a source of funding to terrorist organisations,” said the communiqué, which referred to the operation as one of the largest maritime seizures of heroin in history.

“I have been advised that the heroin involved has a street value of over USD $104 million,” Commodore McHardie said.
“Seizing such a huge haul is significant on many levels,” said commanding officer of HMCS Toronto David Patchell.

“This seizure will have a sweeping impact on terrorist organisations at all levels and demonstrates Canada’s commitment both to our allies and to ensuring the seas are used for legitimate purposes.”

“Through our collaborative work we know that the global and regional terrorist organisations who threaten all of our security finance their activities with proceeds from narcotics trafficking. 

“This most recent seizure will significantly disrupt terrorist networks in the region and greatly assist in coordinated efforts to continue to map the way these organisations resource themselves.”

The press release said the HMCS Toronto crew boarded the dhow in line with international law and found the drugs hidden in 500 bags which had been hidden throughout the ship.
“Operation Southern Sweep has focused on disrupting the movement of significant amounts of heroin from Afghanistan into East Africa by sea.

“HMCS Toronto and Australian frigate HMAS Toowoomba have been operating in support of Southern Sweep off the coast of Tanzania for over a week tracking and boarding suspect drug smugglers,” said the press release.

“The HMCS Toronto was positioned by CTF150 based on narcotics-related intelligence and historical patterns of smugglers in the area. Toronto’s tactical exploitation of this information has paid off,” Commodore McHardie said.

“We are fortunate that HMCS Toronto has also had the assistance of an embarked Seychelles Coast Guard officer and a special agent from NCIS at this crucial time in our operations.

“The ability to exploit detailed local knowledge of the area and expertise in maritime smuggling operations available to our ships at sea is invaluable.”

CTF 150, a combined Australian and Canadian staff, is one of three task forces commanded by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 27-nation partnership that promotes security, stability and prosperity across the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. The area encompasses some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.

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