EU NAVFOR press release
Between 14 th and 18 th April, the French surveillance frigate Floréal, under Atalanta’s command, successfully carried out four consecutive drugs seizures in the international waters while engaged in counter-piracy patrol. As a result, she seized close to 1.400kgs of heroin, 1.200kg of methamphetamines, and 25kg of hashish, worth 50 to 60 million euros in wholesale value and more than 200 million euros (236 million USD) in the street value in Europe (according to the data of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – UNODC).
These four consecutive seizures happened when FS Floréal was heading northbound, following the Smack Track, one of the drugs routes in the Western Indian Ocean, which connects the northern coast of the Arabian Sea to the Southern-Eastern African Coast, to eventually end up on the European markets.
While the number of drug users in Africa is estimated to rise by 40 percent by 2030 according to the UNODC, these four drugs interdiction operations in only five days off the coasts of Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania – an unprecedented event in the area – prove that the fight against drug trafficking is more necessary than ever.
With the increased use of waterways routes, the counter-narcotics executive task of Atalanta is intimately linked to its core mission of counter-piracy operation, as the former pirate networks maintain their capabilities to act at sea by participating in all forms of illegal traffics, sometimes for the benefit of the terrorist groups. Through its operations, Operation Atalanta also contributes to tackle the financial flows of the criminal networks and the violent extremist organizations in the wider East Africa, from Mozambique to the north of Somalia.
With the commitment of its member states, the European Union through Operation Atalanta will continue to provide maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. By tackling the criminal networks in the maritime domain, Atalanta will remain committed uphold the freedom of navigation of the maritime shipping by monitoring and protecting the transit of fishing, commercial, energetic and humanitarian vessels in the area.