On 17 APRIL Marine Nationale frigate La Fayette seized 1940 kgs of hashish in her second seizure in under a week. La Fayette’s seizure is the fourth for the French Navy in support of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) as part of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). Together with Marine Nationale destroyer Jean de Vienne, the two French ships have confiscated over 6 tonnes of hashish and 943 kgs of heroin worth over $450 million USD of narcotics over the last two months.
In an operation coordinated by CTF 150 headquarters, La Fayette’s Panther helicopter was conducting air surveillance when it spotted a dhow of interest. Following a detailed non-destructive search of the vessel, boarding teams from La Fayette located 1940 kgs of hashish, with a street value over $75 million USD. After completing the search, the illegal narcotics were catalogued and transferred to La Fayette to be destroyed safely at sea. The boarding was conducted in the international waters of the Middle East.
Commander of CTF 150, Commodore Mal Wise, Royal Australian Navy, said the ongoing success in recent months can be attributed to the teamwork between partner navies and the CTF 150 headquarters. “Maritime security operations are a team effort. From information gathering and analysis at the headquarters level to the rapid response and professionalism of the ships at sea, the efforts of CMF continue to have a significant influence on events on the high seas. The recent series of seizures by Marine Nationale ships Jean de Vienne and La Fayette has had an important impact on the sources of funding that are available to terrorist networks.”
Since December 2017, multinational assets in support of CTF 150 have seized over 30 tonnes of hashish and 2.5 tonnes of heroin, valued in excess of $2.3 billion USD. CMF conducts maritime security operations in order to ensure the free flow of legitimate commerce in the Middle East region and to deny the use of the high seas to terrorist and illicit non-state actors. CTF 150 is currently under Australian leadership, with a combined Australian and Canadian staff and supported by assets from the 32 member nations.
Media note: *This calculation is based on the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Illicit Drug Data Report 2015–16 figures for Cannabis Resin (Hashish) at $39 USD per gram (p215) and Heroin at $235,000 USD per kilogram (p 216).