MIAMI – The U.S. Coast Guard says its crews helped stop a semi-submersible craft filled with $180 million of cocaine in the western Caribbean.
The so-called “narco submarine” was used by Colombian drug cartel members to export cocaine into the United States.
The Coast Guard said that with help from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection airplane, its cutter located the submarine-like craft off the coast of Honduras near the Nicaraguan border. The Coast Guard, FBI dive teams and the Honduran navy had been searching for the vessel for more than 10 days.
The Coast Guard says the vessel sank, but not before an FBI dive team could recover nearly 7.5 tons of cocaine worth roughly $180 million.
Drug traffickers design self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) crafts to rapidly sink when they detect law enforcement which makes contraband recovery difficult, according to the Coast Guard.
The drugs and five crew members aboard the semi-submersible were turned over to U.S. law enforcement.
SPSS crafts are regularly used to smuggle drugs along Central America’s Pacific Coast.
Built in the FARC-controlled jungles of Colombia, the typical SPSS is less than 100 feet in length, with 4-5 crewmembers, and carries up to 10 metric tons of illicit cargo for distances up to 5,000 miles.
These types of subs are responsible for the movement of nearly one-third of all cocaine between Colombia, Mexico and the U.S.
This was the first interdiction of an SPSS in the Caribbean and the first underwater drug removal of an SPSS.