Narco subs may become trend in Caribbean, Coast Guard says
A member of the U.S. Coast Guard carries a bale of cocaine seized from a narco sub in the Caribbean Sea on September 17.
September 28th, 2011
07:29 PM ET

Narco subs may become trend in Caribbean, Coast Guard says

The U.S. Coast Guard says it believes narco subs, semi-submersible vessels used to transport illegal drugs, may become a trend in the Caribbean Sea after it intercepted a second such vessel there.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk stopped a cocaine-smuggling, self-propelled sub and detained the sub's crew in the western Caribbean Sea on September 17, the service said.

The other instance of the Coast Guard stopping a drug-smuggling sub in the Caribbean happened July 13. Until this summer, all the semi-submersibles that had been seized recently were stopped off Central America's Pacific coast.

"It seems maybe the drug trafficking organizations are changing their tactics a little bit and trying to move massive amounts of narcotics not just through the eastern Pacific, but also through the Caribbean using these (self-propelled semi-submersibles),” said the Mohawk's commanding officer, Coast Guard Cmdr. Mark J. Fedor.

The Mohawk was patrolling the Caribbean on September 17 when a Coast Guard airplane spotted a suspicious vessel in the water. After the Mohawk intercepted the vessel, its crew detained the sub's crew.

Before they were detained, the sub's crew members scuttled their vessel, sinking it in deep water. The Mohawk's crew was unable to recover the cargo except for two bales of cocaine that floated, the Coast Guard said.

A typical narco sub is built in a jungle or other remote area of South America, is less than 100 feet in length, has up to five crew members and carries illicit cargo for up to 5,000 miles, according to the Coast Guard.

Two new narco subs found in Colombia

It is believed that smugglers use the subs to deliver illegal drugs to Mexico, and that the drugs are then transported by land to the United States, Fedor said.

Narco-sub smugglers may be increasingly tempted to use the Caribbean as a shortcut to Mexico.

"In (the) eastern Pacific, those vessels have to travel a long, long way to get up to Mexico or anywhere close to Mexico,” Fedor said.

The main targets of counternarcotics patrols in the western Caribbean Sea - conducted by aircraft and vessels from the Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and partner nations - have been "go-fast boats," which are nondescript vessels with unusually powerful engines. With September's interception of a narco sub, that focus will change.

“Not only are (narco subs) more stealthy and harder to detect, but they can carry up to 6 tons of cocaine, so you’re talking a significant amount more of drugs on these than you will get on a traditional go-fast vessel,” Fedor said.

The sub that was intercepted in July also was scuttled by its crew, but the vessel was in shallow water, so FBI divers were able to access the cargo. About 15,000 pounds of cocaine, worth about $180 million, were found in the cargo hold, the Coast Guard said.

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Filed under: Crime • Drugs • Military • U.S. Coast Guard
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. rhodesmj

    as long was we go after the suppliers, there will always be a new one to step up to the huge profits so the problem will never be eliminated. That is if you consider people's personal activities the business of the government. If you want to eliminate the drug problem, you have to take an approach that makes the drugs undesireable to users. How many people want to buy hamburger when there are recalls due to e. coli or cantelopes due to listeria? Not many people want to take a chance with their health. To get rid of drugs you have to attack the quality of the supplies i.e flood the market with drugs that have had a toxic agent introduced. Not something necessarily that will kill people but enough toxins to get them sick. Make people concerned enough about drug quality and you will eliminate their consumption.

    September 29, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • john

      Excellent idea . It would work . Too bad money controls whether that would happen or not . unfortunate but a reality .
      All the good ideas and intentions are 'scuttled' because money won the argument .

      Thanks for trying anyway !

      September 29, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • gerry

      you are one sick puppy

      September 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • ai720hhi

      You sick bastrds. So when your niece or nephew or son or daughter dies from intentionally tainted coke, how will you feel then?

      September 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      More victims... Way to go Einstein...

      September 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • BC must have gotten that off of Cocaine Wars or something. Maybe you listened to an Afghanistani coke trader...who knows? All I know is this: Cocaine, heroine, and any other drug will end up killing a human. Just a matter of time as long as they are still consuming. Plus, kids already know the effects and the possibilities of them dying. This is just gonna be the way it is.

      September 29, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pagan Goddess Priest

      Sounds perfect! And if someone dies from it it just goes to show how dangerous it really is. They shouldnt be doing it in the first place. So if my sister died because she was doing it was her own damn fault. Yeah it will be hard to get over but it will sure scare the hell out of people and they won't do it anymore. You would be surprised by the number of outbreaks in America that are actually caused by tax payers money!

      September 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • MP

      Interesting concept however, people are already dying from drug use and it hasn't deterred the market, People take illegal drugs for the same exact reason they take prescription meds such as aspirin. They are in pain and perhaps addicted.

      As for legalizing drugs this will present another perhaps bigger problem. Do you really believe the ruthless drug kingpins are just going to walk away if they are legalized. Sure they will...not. They will infiltrate every farmer and distributor by knocking on the door and saying hello I'm your new partner give me a X% or we will kill you.

      If you don't see this is coming to CA in the near future then tell me, who ran legalized gambling in Vegas for the first 50 years?

      September 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    Do you think the people who use these drugs care about their health? People using these drugs could die from using these drugs. We all know this and they know this.
    If you think by simple telling these people they could get sick using these drugs will keep them from using think again.

    September 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. trunks bree

    Who is building the sub and how can the construction material be transported into the jungle without being noticed? Building these vessels is not something that can be picked up over the Internet.

    September 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • BC

      A good book to read would be Tom Clancy's "Against All Enemies". It has some material about narco subs and is good reading. Subs can be built in the jungle because our satelites cannot see thru the dense forest. Plus, when you have Middle Eastern, FARC and Venezuela ties...anything is possible.

      September 29, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sal

    Just sink the subs with the crew in them and that will help solve the problem. 

    September 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. cyclobrown

    yep two bales floated away to the rope locker

    October 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |


    October 29, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
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