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Air Force help with $220m drug bust

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/05/2017
A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion. © Jason Oxenham/Getty Images A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion has been at the sharp end of a multinational task force that's made significant heroin busts in the Middle East.

On April 28, the Orion surveillance aircraft, on patrol in the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) area of operation in international waters, spotted two sailing vessels.

One was boarded by French soldiers and a 200kg cache of heroin discovered, while a second - boarded the following week - had a similar amount of heroin found on it.

The value of the heroin seized was believed to be $220 million. It was thought the vessels were bound for Africa and Europe.

"This operation has dealt a serious blow to organised crime and terrorist organisations that rely on illegal drugs to fund their activities," said Major General Tim Gall, the commander Joint Forces New Zealand.

The RNZAF Orion helps to patrol an area covering 6.4 million sq km, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean.

The New Zealand Defence Force sent an Orion and 55 personnel to the Middle East in February as part of the CMF, a 31-nation naval partnership that promotes maritime security and fights piracy in international waters.

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