During a riverine operation, the Colombian Navy’s Pacific Naval Force, with the Army’s support, seized two semisubmersibles in an illegal artisanal shipyard in the rural area of Tumaco, Nariño department, in mid-March. The 380-square meter shipyard, as well as the illegal naval artifacts, belonged to the Iván Ríos structure, a dissident group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Colombian Navy said in a statement.
The 25-meter long semisubmersibles could transport up to 4 tons of narcotics each, the Colombian Navy said.
One of the semisubmersibles was 80 percent complete, while the other was fully finished, ready to transport illicit drugs destined for Mexican drug cartels, the Navy said. During the operation, authorities also seized a boat, communication equipment, and different tools used to build these illegal vessels, which were destroyed according to established protocols.
“This is a criminal investigation that has been going on for some time; the information came to the surface because [previously] some of these semisubmersibles had been seized off the coast of Mexico,” Colombian Marine Corps Colonel Jaime Orlando Zambrano Chavarro, commander of the Fourth Marine Corps Brigade in Tumaco, told Diálogo.
Colombian authorities have been finding semisubmersibles for some 10 years now, which in principle retain the same structure. It is estimated that each semisubmersible can be worth up to $1 million.
“The cost brings together the time it takes to build it, the shipyard they have to build to have the necessary infrastructure to build it, the engine or engines […], and in general the rest of the logistics activities that involve the construction of a semisubmersible,” Col. Zambrano said. “In this particular case, having succeeded in destroying the shipyard, and destroying the two semisubmersibles, we made quite an impact, higher than $2 million, which affects the Iván Ríos criminal group.”
So far this year, until mid-March, the Pacific Naval Force has seized nine semisubmersibles and 30 tons of cocaine. “This important achievement, of course, has been possible due to the institutional effort that the Navy carries out at this moment, with all the units deployed throughout the Colombian Pacific coast to hit this criminal business that is narcotrafficking,” Col. Zambrano said.