On December 7, the Peruvian Navy seized a small submarine with a crew of four carrying more than 1 ton of cocaine bound for Mexico, the Peruvian Office of the Attorney General reported on December 11.
“The drug found in the submersible is cocaine, as determined by the tests we’ve carried out,” Peruvian Attorney General Jorge Chávez, prosecution coordinator against organized crime, told AFP.
“We’re weighing the cargo right now. We’re talking about more than 1 ton of cocaine, [but] we are still weighing” the drug found inside the narco-submarine, which was captured in open waters off the northern Peruvian coast, he added.
The Navy initially said that the submersible, about 66 feet long, carried about “4,409 pounds of illicit substances,” but the attorney general has confirmed that it was cocaine.
Authorities detained the submersible’s four crew members — two Colombians, one Mexican, and one Ecuadorean.
Chávez explained that the vessel was loaded “in the Ecuadorean mangroves” near the Peruvian border, also a wetland area.
The attorney general did not explain why the submersible entered Peruvian territorial waters, located south of Ecuador, if it intended to navigate north to reach Mexico.
The narco-submarine, which was painted in grey to camouflage it with the sea and built with a small hole on the upper surface for crew access, was towed to the port of Paita, about 620 miles north of Lima.
“This is the first submersible caught in Peru. So far, we know that the vessel was bound for Mexico,” said Chávez, who is in charge of the investigations in Paita.
“We’re asking the Navy to make a technical report on how it was built,” he said, adding that “the drug and the detainees will be taken to Lima.”
“We don’t know what international organization they belong to,” he said.
The boat was intercepted December 7, 178 nautical miles off the coastal town of Talará, 31 miles north of Paita.
Drug cartels began to use submarines frequently in 2005, experts say, and it is believed that they are built in Colombia, Ecuador, or Guyana.
Peru produces more than 400 tons of cocaine a year, the national anti-drug agency reported, and most of it is “exported” by sea.
Together with Colombia and Bolivia, Peru is one of the largest producers of coca leaf and cocaine worldwide, says the United Nations.