HMCS Toronto interdicts heroin shipment off Tanzania

Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) ship Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Toronto has seized approximately 280kg of high-grade heroin off the coast of Tanzania, close to Zanzibar Island.

The illicit narcotics were seized after HMCS Toronto intercepted and boarded a suspect dhow. An extensive search of the vessel revealed 280.7kg of heroin hidden onboard. The narcotics were catalogued before samples were taken for further analysis and the remainder destroyed.

The seizure happened after CMF air assets, including a US Navy P3C ‘Orion’ maritime patrol aircraft and Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Melbourne’s embarked ‘Seahawk’ helicopter, observed the suspect dhow in the north Indian Ocean. They relayed the dhow’s location to HMCS Toronto which was able to board and investigate the vessel as it neared the Tanzanian coast.

Commander Matthew Bowen, Royal Canadian Navy, Commanding Officer, HMCS Toronto said: “It is the collaboration with our multi-national partners that has enabled us to achieve a positive outcome in seizing these illegal narcotics. Our combined efforts serve to disrupt the funding of terrorist organisations, which is the heart of our mission with CTF 150.”

Commodore Daryl Bates, Royal Australian Navy, Commander CTF 150 said: “I congratulate the Royal Canadian Navy, and the men and women of HMCS Toronto in particular, for another job well done.”

During her year-long deployment with CMF, HMCS Toronto has seized 2,327 kg of heroin from smuggling dhows. In December 2013, the ship seized 539kg of heroin from a single dhow – the largest heroin interdiction ever by a CMF unit.

This latest heroin seizure follows two previous interdictions by HMCS Toronto in the same region: On 15 April last year, Toronto’s boarding team discovered almost 500kgs of heroin hidden aboard a dhow off Zanzibar Island. On 9 May, 317kgs of heroin were taken from another smuggling dhow situated118 miles off the Tanzanian coast.

Cdre Bates added: “Through hard work and persistence, Toronto has adversely affected the operations of those who wish to use the maritime environment for illicit activities. We know that such activity funds terrorism and violent extremism so we are pleased this cargo was intercepted.”

HMCS Toronto is currently deployed within Combined Task Force (CTF)150, one of three task forces operating under CMF. CTF 150 is currently led by an Australian command team based at the CMF headquarters in Bahrain. Its mission is to promote maritime security across over 2.5 million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman.


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