The largest Colombian “narco sub” ever recorded – about 30 meters (98 feet) long and 3 meters wide – has been intercepted in the Pacific Ocean and found to contain 3 tonnes of cocaine, the country’s navy said on Friday.
The semi-submerged vessel was stopped on Tuesday en route to Central America, one of the most common routes for drug smuggling into the US, the world’s largest consumer of Colombian cocaine.
The Navy posted videos of officers boarding the ship and unloading the package.
#Operational Force In the Colombian Pacific Ocean, in a joint operation with @FuerzaAereaCol, we seized the largest semi-submersible since 1993, the year the first such artifact was seized. @infopresidencia @mindefensa
👉 https://t.co/UjBXvX4oV3 pic.twitter.com/DZUUVz2r61
— Colombian Navy (@ArmadaColombia) May 12, 2023
The detained crew – aged 45, 54 and 63 – are all Colombian and are alleged to have been “forced by a drug-trafficking organization to take the sub to Central America”, the navy said in a statement.
In three decades, the Colombian Navy has seized 228 drug-laden semi-submersibles, which are never fully underwater but are used by smugglers to avoid detection by the Coast Guard and other authorities. Some were bound for the United States, others stranded in the Atlantic, headed for Europe.
Officials said Friday that the fourth such vessel has been intercepted this year.
In March, officials made a seizure Narco sub carrying two bodies and large quantities of narcotics in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Colombia. About a week later, a semi-submerged vessel contained about 1,000 packages of cocaine. to block in the same region.
This latest vessel was the largest to be decommissioned by a Colombian narco sub since records began in 1993. The seizure represents a nearly $103 million hit to the drug trade, the Navy said.
In Colombia, the world’s largest producer of cocaine, laws punish up to 14 years in prison for using, manufacturing, marketing, possessing or transporting a semi-submerged product.
In 2021, cultivation of the coca plant, from which cocaine is extracted, covered 204,000 hectares (505,000 acres), according to the United Nations. This was the highest figure since monitoring began 21 years ago, and was accompanied by an increase in cocaine production from 1,010 tonnes to 1,400 tonnes in 2020.
Last week’s seizure comes about a week after a Colombian man was dubbed The “Prince of Semi-Submersibles” was sentenced More than 20 years in US federal prison for smuggling nearly 30,000 pounds of cocaine into the United States. Oscar Adriano Quintero Rengifo, 35, operated a fleet of narco subs transporting drugs from South America to Central America that were ultimately destined for the United States.