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. Andrew

    Shoot the living f@# out of the subs and that will send a message to the cartels.

    September 29, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • ASG

      As tempting as that may be, we should not become like them. They are ruthless thugs and place no value on life.

      September 29, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • RightyO

      Torpedo the buggers right out've the water!!!

      September 29, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. Rags

    Here's my plan: Let all the narco-heads have all they want for free with the understanding that they're on your own when things go wrong. And they surely will go wrong. Give each and every person their own shovel to dig their own grave because they surely will die an agonizing death.
    Allow no interference at all – no Doctors, no hospitals, no drug counseling, no sympathy, no bleeding hearts, nothing.
    Let them die a horrible death that were caused by themselves.
    Everybody has to lookout for themselves and not expect others to bail them out when they make stupid judgement calls.
    I have absolutely no sympathy!!!

    September 29, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. GT66

    "Narco subs may become trend in Caribbean, Coast Guard says" And that piece of brilliant insight only cost the tax payers a few billion dollars. BTW – bang up job on keeping that stuff out of the country Coast Guard, there isn't even enough to pave EVERY street in the country with the stuff, just the major thruways. The war on drugs is a colossal fail and an even bigger waste of our dwindling dollar resources. Hey government, how about using all that money to improve the QoL in this country so people aren't so eager to take drugs to escape it?

    September 29, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. NipponReptilian

    These narco subs have Nazi Technologies with Nazi Logo on it.

    September 29, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. Bill744

    Time to equip the Coast Guard with sub detection equipment and depth charges, eh?

    September 29, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. Sharkfisher

    We have a surplus of depth charges .Put them to use.That would save a lot of time and money.And the it would elimanate the danger to coast guard personell removing the drug runners from the sub.It's just a matter of time befor the drug runners figure out how to arm the sus with torpedos.

    September 29, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • TheThinker

      LOL @ you talkers. So we have a "surplus of depth charges"... we quit using depth charges during WW2.

      Why all the violent talk? Capture the submarines, continue striving for law and order, send the perps to the justice system, and we all grow old happily.

      September 29, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. Keith123

    Since it is common practice for the smugglers to scuttle their subs at sea, then the Coast Guard should just turn around. No need to waste time and money to rescue the smugglers, try them, and then deport them. Let the sharks have a feast.

    September 29, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. John

    When one stops to consider the inhumane effects of drugs on the human body, not to mention society as a whole, I think the following solution would be appropriate.
    Inform the countries where the product is originating, that if they cannot produce a plan to stop the flow of illegal drugs from their country, war will be declared against them. All shipping from their ports will be blockaded. Subsistence food and medical supplies will be allowed in.
    Every square inch of the offending country will then be systematically defolliated. If you take it indoors, it will be napalmed. Offer rewards for Cartel heads and execute them summarily. Promote reforestation and agriculture.

    September 29, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sandman

    Time to get the retired S-3s out of moth balls and give them to the Coast Guard. They come armed with torpedoes. One hit from a Mk46 and they will be nothing left of it.

    September 29, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joshua Ludd

    Of course they are going to become a trend. We keep pot illegal, which is their major funding source, so they keep on making tons of money... and will go about shipping their drugs here any way they can as long as they have a black market, and they will continue to have a black market until we legalize. We've been fighting the war on drugs for decades and quite simply put, it does not work. Legalize pot and use the money saved on police, courts, and jails to educated honestly about harder drugs.

    September 29, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. Wastelander

    I for one welcome our new narco-sub overlords.

    September 29, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  12. Sunflower

    Maybe they should also look into just who is BUILDING these subs..... Go after them as well... Go to the source.

    September 29, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  13. bmwmotorrad

    Drugs smugglers build submarines..soon they will build airplanes,airports,underground train systems etc..just what goverment wants...

    September 29, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  14. deadline99

    They can carry up to six tons, and about 15,000 lbs of cocaine were found in the hold of one boat. Please don't apply for the job of dive officer on my boat, you missed trim by a ton and a half.

    September 29, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. boogietime

    A couple nice torpedo targets seem like a great way for the government to save a few $$$s and work on naval crew readiness as well.

    September 29, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
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