New Zealand and Australian forces have discovered a major cargo of illegal drugs during anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, the New Zealand Defense Force said in a statement on Monday.
The cargo of hashish, valued at 280 million AU dollars (245.76 million U.S. dollars), was found aboard a dhow that a New Zealand air force P-3K2 Orion and Australian frigate HMAS Toowoomba had trailed from the Arabian Sea to the Horn of Africa.
After four days of bad weather, the crew of the Toowoomba were able to board the dhow and, after an exhaustive search, the boarding team discovered 5,588 kg of hashish in hessian bags, said the statement.
The forces were operating under the command of the Pakistan- navy led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150), the Combined Maritime Forces task group charged with conducting maritime security operations to deny terrorists the use of the seas as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other illicit material.
“This was a great result for the combined New Zealand and Australian force and our Pakistan Navy colleagues at CTF-150 who led the operation,” New Zealand Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy said in the statement.
HMAS Toowoomba’s boarding officer, Lieutenant Stefan Stuart, said in the statement that the drugs were well hidden and, once found, were extremely difficult to access and remove. Endi