Colombia Has Seized 16 Drug ‘Submarines’ In 3 Years

By Dialogo
April 07, 2011

In three years, Colombia has succeeded in intercepting sixteen submersible vessels or ‘submarines’ used to carry tons of cocaine across the Pacific Ocean to the coasts of Central America and Mexico, the commandant of that country’s navy said on 5 April.

“We’ve developed systems that enable us to detect them; for this reason, we trapped nine in 2009, three in 2010, and four so far this year,” Adm. Alvaro Echandía told the press at the Twenty-Eighth International Drug Enforcement Conference in Cancún, in eastern Mexico.

The Colombian military commander indicated that in building each of these vessels, which generally navigate a few meters below the surface of the water, drug traffickers invest an average of around two million dollars.

“But using them, they can move shipments of eight to twelve tons” of drugs, making the investment very profitable, he noted.

The officer said that in view of the increased surveillance carried out by Colombia in order to intercept these vessels, the cartels are seeking to build them in other countries. “In July, one was found in Ecuador,” he indicated.

During the inaugural session of the conference, in which representatives from more than a hundred countries are participating, the director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Michele Leonhart, mentioned that at least two drug submarines were found in Ecuador in the last year, a fact she offered as evidence of the anti-drug cooperation among the Colombian, Ecuadorean, and U.S. authorities.

According to United Nations reports, up to 69% of the more than six hundred tons of cocaine sent from Colombia to the United States travels by sea across the Pacific Ocean, following the imposition of increasingly strict surveillance in the Caribbean Sea.