Chasing the narco subs

Houston Chronicle:


The P-3 turboprop was 500 miles off Colombia's coast, coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Dallas.

"This will go down quickly," advised a helicopter shadowing two speedboats.

Flanked by armed Coast Guard boarding teams, three underwear-clad traffickers waved a white flag, climbed out of a hatch and into the American justice system.

The boat carried more than 2 tons of cocaine, but most carry 4 to 8 tons, law enforcement official say.

About 3,000 pounds was offloaded by the Coast Guard before the narco sub lost stability and sank, according to court papers filed in Florida.

Most of the vessels are enclosed, usually a bit longer than school buses, and painted blue to blend in with the ocean. While they don't submerge, they do ride low enough in the water to be tough to spot with radar or heat-seeking cameras.

The narco subs, each of which can cost $750,000 to over $1 million to make, don't have names, don't fly flags and would be an intimidating sight for civilians.

They are tough on crews.

Most of the interior, which can be sweltering under the merciless ocean sun, is for diesel and cargo. Journeys can typically last a week.

They aim for clandestine drop-off points along the Mexican or Central American coastline, or rendezvous with motherships at sea.

Narco subs have global positioning systems, radios and satellite phones. Crews are paid up to $25,000 apiece for a successful delivery.


It sounds like these are one way vessels. They appear to be unstable without the dope load. While the US is tarting to find more of them, I would think that Colombia should be finding them before they are launched. They should be easy to find while under construction too. The authorities should be tracing the purchase of large quantities of fiberglass needed for their construction.


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