High drama on high seas, 6,248kg of hashish seized

High drama on high seas, 6,248kg of hashish seized

Smugglers have been using small boats to transport large shipments of narcotics, funds from which go to both established and fledgling terror networks.


Allan Jacob

Published: Fri 4 Jul 2014, 1:35 AM

Last updated: Thu 20 Feb 2020, 9:52 AM

A whopping 6,248kg of hashish was seized and destroyed at sea by naval forces in what is believed to be the largest haul in recent years.

The seized hashish placed on the flight deck of the HMAS Darwin, prior to destruction. - Photo supplied by the Combined Maritime Forces
The haul was from a boat in the Indian Ocean near regional waters, said navy officials, who were tight-lipped about the exact location. The members of the smuggling gang were released.
Smugglers have been using small boats to transport large shipments of narcotics, funds from which go to both established and fledgling terror networks like Al Qaeda, Isil (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and Boko Haram which are spreading their tentacles in the region.
Naval patrols have thwarted 11 such efforts this year alone and experts fear this could only be a small fraction of the funds going to the coffers of militant groups. The latest cache of narcotics was recovered from a dhow by naval forces based in Bahrain during a patrol.
Combined Maritime Forces officials told Khaleej Times that the drug smuggling operations were an important source of financing for terror groups operating in the region and recent busts had checked runs by smugglers but the illegal trade-linked terror networks continued to flourish.
Australian warship, the HMAS Darwin, operating under the Combined Maritime Forces, was in the thick of action when its crew boarded the boat and found the shipment of hash, or cannabis resin, in the "largest maritime seizure of hash in the Indian Ocean to date".
Officials said the operation lasted 12 hours and was conducted on June 28.
The crew of the HMAS Darwin worked their way to the drugs which were stashed in the hull of the vessel.
The Darwin has seized 1,675kg of heroin and 10,647kg of hashish in eight boarding operations this year. The same ship seized the largest-ever shipment of heroin at sea in April when 1,032kg were found on a dhow off the coast of east Africa.
Major Matthew Allen, Royal Navy, of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), when asked about the source and destination of the dhow, said the boat carrying the drugs had no records to cover its voyage.
Last week, the Dubai Police said they had coordinated with the Combined Maritime Forces in its operations against narcotics, but Major Allen did not divulge details. "This was a routine operation being carried out by HMAS Darwin within the Combined Maritime Forces remit. CMF do not comment on any of the sources through which it may gain information that is used during its operations. Such disclosure could directly affect the success of future operation," he said.
When asked if there was a pattern emerging in the routes the smugglers took, the official said: "The vessels follow traditional trade routes that can alter due to seasonal weather variations. As such there is no new pattern emerging, it is simply smugglers following the tried and tested routes that have been used for generations."
Commander Terry Morrison, Commanding Officer of the ship, said his crew was focused on the war against drugs and terrorism, while Commodore Jeremy Blunden Royal Navy, Commander of the maritime task force against narcotics in the region, said the effort had contributed significantly to understanding the modus operandi of drug smugglers linked to terrorists.

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