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. the prophet

    Wow amazing

    September 28, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    Fabulous.
    Just what the Carribean needs.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff Frank ( R - Ohio ) "Automatic Fanatic"

    Sink them all!

    September 28, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    @Jeff Frank:
    It's always a pleasure to see what little gem you're going to come up with next in your u/n.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. leeintulsa

    I wonder how many get through every day..

    September 28, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank ( R - Ohio ) "Off The Deep End"

    You could only imagine the USCG, sinking one of these off the shores of a town, people snorting 6 tons of the crap in their water supply. 😮

    September 28, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • budgets

      that is only good untill their technology superceds ours. That moment is coming because we keep increasing their profits by making the trade illicit. We need to tax this and stop the illicity in order to gain control of this situation. The war is lost, what we are doing is not working, we have to change something.

      September 29, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff Frank ( R - Ohio ) "Off The Deep End"

    @BANASY Mwa! Sorry. Gotta get back to work.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. you should know better

    as long as people keep putting it in their nose they will find ways to bring it in

    September 28, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. WILL FARROW

    IM A SKEPTIC! AFTER 911 IS THIS WHATS REALLY GOING ON UNDER THE FLOOR OF THE OCEAN, THATS A SERIOUS CHALLENGE TO SMUGGLE DRUGS WITH ALL THE FEDERAL GOVERMENT WATCHING, I SMELL A RAT.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. daedalus

    What I find amazing is that the US Coast Guard does so much nationally and internationally with so few men. They are not much larger than the NYC police department. Congratulation to hard working group of men and women who do not get enough credit for their efforts

    September 28, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. s kel

    I like submarine movies : Run silent run deep, U251, Crimmson Tide, Enemy Below, Destination Tokyo, Below, ect....

    September 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. s kel

    Oh and how could I forget , Hunt for Red October.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tb

    How long will it take for America to legalize drugs and control it like alcohol is controlled? Spending millions on drug related prisoners while all the drug money goes to either narcotics divisions or king pins who rarely get caught.

    September 29, 2011 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
    • WBMike

      Yeah, but our society has already been on a downward slide for the past decade or more. People are too stupid, insensitive, and irresponsible on a daily basis. Forget about adding coke to the mix.

      September 29, 2011 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. Sokman

    Dont forget K-19, the Widowmaker

    September 29, 2011 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      What about it? A soviet sub that experienced a really bad reactor issue. Don't think it applies to anything here, other than it is a sub.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mmmmm

    so what else is floating underwater into the USA, really homeland security...

    September 29, 2011 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
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