Colombian Traffickers Moving Drugs in Submarines

By ~lostgurl~ · May 25, 2008 · Updated May 25, 2008 · ·
  1. ~lostgurl~
    A new entry has been added to Drugs Archive

    3 min.
    27 February 2008
    Al Jazeera

    Colombian traffickers are now building primitive submarines in the jungle, filling them with cocaine, and moving them to the Colombian coast via rivers. The submarines then transport the cocaine by sea to the North.

    To check it out, rate it or add comments, visit Colombian Traffickers Moving Drugs in Submarines
    The comments you make there will appear in the posts below.

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  1. Expat98
    Here's a news article about this.


    Now drug smugglers turn to submarines

    Jeremy McDermott
    The Scotsman

    SOUTH American drug seizures at sea are at a record high, with 70 tons of cocaine worth more than £800 million found by the Colombian navy alone last year, prompting drugs cartels to move their shipments deeper under cover, beneath the waves.

    During last year, more than ten submarines – or "narcosubs" – were discovered by the Colombian and United States navies, more than were found during the past ten years put together.

    "As time passes, the drugs traffickers change the ways they move drugs. Now it is about submarines," Juan Carlos Molano, a coastguard captain, said.

    Until now, the favoured method has been the use of super-fast speed boats, designed to be nautical bullets that take tons of drugs darting across the water, especially the Caribbean, travelling so fast the navy has no vessel fast enough to intercept.

    Now, however, the US, Colombian, British and Dutch navies that patrol the Caribbean are co-ordinating activity, scrambling patrol craft and helicopters to intercept the boats as soon as they leave the Colombian shoreline.

    Another benefit of the submarines for traffickers is they can carry far larger cargoes than the super-fast boats. One of the largest submarines in use was discovered in November in a jungle estuary in the province of Narino, by the Pacific Ocean. A massive fibreglass construction almost 60ft long and 10ft wide, the sub could carry 12 tons of drugs, needing a crew of four. Its estimated construction cost was £750,000.

    In the same month, a few hundred miles up the coast near the drug-smuggling centre of Buenaventura, two more submarines were found in a guerrilla shipyard, each 56ft long.

    The submarines, alongside go-fast speedboats, were being built by rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). This 12,000-strong army is largely financed by the drugs trade and is now working in tandem not just with drugs cartels but with right-wing paramilitaries that were once its sworn enemies. One of the subs was finished, kitted out with a 350-horsepower diesel engine and fuel tanks big enough to take the vessel up to Mexico or anywhere in Central America.

    Many of the submarines are not fully submersible, in the sense that they do not dive deep under the water like naval boats. Rather, the drug subs are "semi-submersibles", which means that the body of the vessel stays under the water line, with breathing tubes and part of the navigation system visible.

    "What is visible is so small that it is hard for land or air radar to pick them up," said Admiral Gabriel Garcia.

    It is clear that some of the drug subs can travel thousands of miles. One, 33ft in length, was found off the north-west coast of Spain last year, no doubt abandoned after its cargo of up to five tons of drugs had been unloaded.

    A Colombian coastguard official said a submersible's crew, detained last year after their 55ft vessel sank off the coast of Tumaco, Colombia, told police that they viewed the craft as a death trap, but had been lured by the £1,000 payment the drug magnates had promised if they guided the vessel to Central America.

    Asked to describe the men detained, the coastguard official merely said: "Crazy."

    As well as semi-submersibles, drugs traffickers are known to use underwater containers filled with drugs that are attached by cable to fishing boats and dragged in their wake. The advantage of this system is that, if the boats are intercepted, the fishing vessels simply drop the cable holding the drugs, meaning there is no evidence of smuggling.

    However, the crews of the drug subs also have orders to scuttle their vessels rather than allow the narcotics to be captured. On 7 December, four men were rescued after sinking their drug subs, laden with as much as 12 tons of drugs off Colombia. They were picked up by a US navy vessel, their clothes showing signs of contact with cocaine.

    However, the submarine sank to the bottom of the 10,000ft-deep ocean, according to Admiral Edgar Cely, the Colombian navy's chief of operations, thus burying much of the evidence against them. The men admitted they had been paid £1,000 each to pilot the vessel to Central America.

    What also worries US and Colombian intelligence officials is the military use that these subs could be put to.

    "There could be five tons of anything on board these things," said a senior US military official involved in the "war on drugs".

    A senior official with the US Drug Enforcement Administration in Colombia said: "Any viable method to covertly transport large quantities of illicit drugs over long distances such as these (vessels] could conceivably be employed to transport other prohibited materials."


    THE largest narco-sub yet discovered was 100ft long and would have been capable of carrying 200 tonnes of cocaine.

    The Bogota warehouse where it was being constructed – apparently to Russian plans – was raided by Colombian police in 2000 before the vessel could be brought into use.

    While the capital is landlocked, officers speculated that, once completed, the submarine would have been dismantled and taken by lorry to Colombia's Pacific or Caribbean coast.

    The move to find ever more covert ways of shipping drugs is a response to international efforts to clamp down on the trade.

    Even so, resources are an issue. A US senate hearing was told last month that the Drug Enforcement Administration had far more intelligence on South American drug cartels than it had the capacity to act on.

    Nevertheless, the US Coast Guard recently said illicit trafficking in cocaine was seemingly shift
    ing from the Caribbean to the Pacific, as it announced record seizures last year.

    "We have forced them to adapt to routes that are dangerous and are expensive," said Coast Guard Commander Bob Watts in announcing cocaine seizures worth more than $4.7 billion (£2.3 billion).

    He said because of the US Coast Guard's increased surveillance in the Caribbean Sea, smugglers are turning to riskier tactics, including dissolving cocaine in diesel fuel.

    He said they had also been forced to turn to the more expensive and arduous Pacific routes, including via the Galapagos Islands, since most routes via the Caribbean Sea have been shut down. Africa was increasingly being used as an alternative trans-shipment route to the drug market in Europe.

    According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Colombia is the world's biggest producer of cocaine, followed by Peru and Bolivia.
  2. enquirewithin
    My comments and rating on this entry...


    Such ingenuity! Only just submarines, though.:)

    To check this out, and rate it or add your own comments, visit Colombian Traffickers Moving Drugs in Submarines.
    The comments you make there will appear in the posts below.
  3. dr_haldol
    Submarines? WTF? :crazy
  4. Expat98
    Re: My comments and rating on this entry...

    Yeah, you have to appreciate the ingenuity of the traffickers if nothing else.

    The article above calls these vessels "semi-submersibles". That's probably a better name for them.

    I would not want to be in the crew. Can't believe they only get paid £1,000 for this.
  5. Heretic.Ape.
    Phew! I was worried they'd caught up with Hagbard Celine and his Golden Submarine.
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