Over a ton of drugs seized by Op Atalanta assets


A routine patrol off the East African coast by warships detached to the European Union (EU) tasking Operation Atalanta netted the first haul of narcotics for the year – a massive bust of more than a ton of drugs.

The Atalanta tasking was extended to include the prevention of drug trafficking last year in addition to its original mandate of providing protection for World Food Programme (WFP) vessels.

French Navy warships LHD Dixmude (L9015), an amphibious assault ship, and the stealth frigate FFH La Fayette (F710) from the French “Jeanne d´Arc 23” Mission and currently part of Operation Atalanta seized 1 087.5 kg of narcotics carried on two stateless dhows. Now awaiting disposal are 573 kg of hashish, 305 kg of heroin and 210 kg of methamphetamines.

The d’Arc mission started in February and is a French naval around the world deployment. It involves an unspecified number of exercises and port calls with a temporary detachment to the Indian Ocean off the Horn of Africa as part of the Atalanta tasking.

The French warships are in direct support to EUNavFor (European Union Naval Force) along with the Italian Frigate Carlo Bergamini (F50), under the command of fleet headquarters on the Atalanta flagship Spanish frigate Reina Sofia (F84).

The anti-narcotics operation saw two separate actions – the first by La Fayette and the second by Dixmude. They come in the wake of eight anti-narcotics operations last year where close to 13 tons of drugs were confiscated.

The street value of 2023’s first seizure is 36.8 million euros. All actions were conducted in close co-ordination with the French Joint Forces Commander in the Indian Ocean, the EU Naval Force said.

The commitment of contributing countries, in this case France, allows Atalanta to tackle the narcotics flow in the western Indian Ocean in accordance with its mandate. The Atalanta counter-narcotics executive task targets illegal activities by criminal networks, as well as tackling sources of funding for violent extremist organisations throughout East Africa from Mozambique to Northern Somalia.

“This success highlights Operation Atalanta is fully committed to fight illegal trafficking and proves EUNavFor’s effectiveness as maritime security provider, increasing responsibilities developed during 14 years of existence,” a statement reads.