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Australian warship in large drug bust off Somalia

shipSYDNEY: An Australian warship has seized heroin with an estimated street value of Aus$132 million (US$123 million) off the coast of Somalia, the defence department said today.

The 449 kilogramme (990 pound) haul was found on a dhow, a type of sailing  vessel, intercepted by  HMAS Darwin while patrolling the Indian Ocean some 40  nautical miles off Somalia’s east coast.

The ship’s commander Terry Morrison said the seizure “removed a major  source of funding for terrorist and criminal networks which included Al-Qaeda,  the Taliban and Al-Shabaab”.

The drugs were hidden in 20 bags, each weighing between 20 to 25  kilogrammes each.

HMAS Darwin is part of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a naval partnership  involving 30 nations that patrols 2.5 million square miles of international  waters.

The Australian ship 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.

The bust, the CMF’s seventh “significant seizure” this year, came three  weeks after the Australian and British navies jointly found 1,032 kilogrammes  of heroin — their largest-ever haul — on a dhow off the coast of east Africa  near Kenya and Tanzania.

The drugs were estimated to have a street value of Aus$289 million.–AFP