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Australian warship makes hashish seizure

Contents of a 5kg parcel containing hashish, seized by HMAS Darwin's boarding party when they conducted a search of a suspicious Shu'ai Dhow

Thursday May 22, 2014

An Australian warship has seized 786 kilogrammes (1,733 pounds) of hashish in the Arabian Sea, the defence department said Thursday, one week after it found a large stash of heroin off Somalia.

The drugs, estimated to have a street value of Aus$30 million (US$28 million), were found on Monday after HMAS Darwin personnel searched a dhow -- a sailing vessel -- for 23 hours, the navy said.

Australian officials would not comment on which country's shoreline the dhow was nearest to, but revealed the hashish was hidden in 37 bags, each weighing 21-22 kilograms.

"This clearly indicates that the Australian Defence Force and the Combined Maritime Forces are having a significant impact on this illicit trade and on terrorist-funding streams," the ship's commander Terry Morrison said.

The defence department said last week HMAS Darwin discovered 449 kilogrammes of heroin with an estimated street value of Aus$132 million in a separate bust off Somalia's coast.

The two operations follow a joint seizure of 1,032 kilograms of heroin with an estimated street value of Aus$289 million by the Australian and British navies -- their biggest haul -- in late April from a dhow off the coast of east Africa near Kenya and Tanzania.

HMAS Darwin is part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) naval partnership in which 30 nations patrol 2.5 million square miles of international waters.

The warship enforces maritime security with a focus on terrorist activity in the Middle East and Indian Ocean regions as part of the British-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, which operates under the CMF.



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