James Lybrand - Drug trafficking
The Navy has been involved in operations or had had been involved in maritime operations in the Middle East, since the very early 90s with only very short periods of gaps between ships most of that time, but I guess the contributing factor that CTF 150 looked at was that the transit of drugs and or other illegal materials such as, could be charcoal for example, which is well transited, hashish or increasingly, sort of towards the period that I was there was other more chemical drugs, heroin, sort of methamphetamines but all those things can support the growth of terrorism as well or to underpin the financing for terrorism.
So the idea was that if you disrupt and destroy those drugs you're actually taking away a method of funding for terrorism. And to that end, you know, that the Navy ships that we would send mostly an FFG, a frigate or FFH, like an Anzac class would interdict ships or dows running, generally, from the Iranian coast, down to Africa and they would either have nothing on board or they would have, you know, a couple of tons of drugs on board.
And there would be a number of indicators and warnings the ships would look for, you know, transit pattern, what they're doing, the type of ship, and they would then identify the vessel and board it in a number of ways, that might need to be a flag verification boarding. So what country does that ship belong to and show us your papers and if they show could they belonged to a flag, you would then need to go through a certain process. But if it was found to be stateless, you could then do effectively a boarding and a search of that boat.
That was done under the auspices of the CMF activity. But if you find drugs, you have to then use some of your national laws to both seize and then dispose of those drugs. At the time I was there, there was, I think, either close to a record done by HMAS Ballarat, the ship that was there for about six months of that time, either destroyed or disposed of materials in the ocean. So you know, some hundreds of millions of dollars of money that did not get to terrorism.