HMAS Ballarat makes massive drug bust in Middle East – Ballarat Courier

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More than three tonnes of illegal drugs worth about $155 million have been seized by the Australian navy in the Middle East. HMAS Ballarat found the 3.1 tonnes of hashish – a drug made from cannabis – during an operation on January 8 and 9 on a fishing vessel in international waters in the Arabian Sea. “The seizure is a reflection of the continued trade in illegal narcotics which has the potential to fund terrorist groups across the region,” Commander Paul Johnson said in a statement on Sunday. “HMAS Ballarat is contributing to the Australian Government’s mission to ensure Middle East regional maritime security. Ballarat and her crew remain ready to continue that mission during our deployment on Operation Manitou.” The drugs were found in voids around the vessel, he said. This is the third intercept of narcotics by HMAS Ballarat since it arrived in the Middle East in November on Operation Manitou. The operation is Australia’s contribution to the Combined Maritime Forces in the Middle East region involving 33 navy partnerships to promote maritime security in the region. HMAS Ballarat also seized more than 900kgs of heroin worth more than $279 million after boarding two vessels on December 21 and 23. Australian Associated Press

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