PortandTerminal.com, November 27, 2019
On Tuesday, Spanish authorities refloated a sunken “narco-sub” smuggling vessel and extracted 3.5 tonnes of cocaine from its interior.
PONTEVEDRA, SPAIN – On Sunday (November 24), authorities intercepted the first “narco-submarine” ever caught in European waters. Before the narco-sub approached the Port of Aldan in Spain an international law enforcement team from the UK, Portugal and Spain had been tracking and preparing to seize it.
The vessel sank during the bust, and two Ecuadorian nationals were arrested. A third managed to evade capture and escape. On Tuesday, Spanish authorities refloated the sunken “narco-sub” using airbags and removed 3.5 tonnes of cocaine from its interior.
The 72 foot-long submersible (22-meter) vessel had made the transatlantic ocean journey from Colombia and was a sophisticated craft. Authorities estimate its value to be approximately $2.75 million.
This region of Spain has a long history as a drop-off point for drug shipments because of its curving coastline filled with secluded coves. The police have carried out numerous raids in the region.
While the bust is a first for European authorities, the US Coast Guard has intercepted a number of narco-subs recently. In September the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Valiant intercepted a drug-laden, 40-foot semi-submersible in the Eastern Pacific.
In another incident in June, the US Coast Guard made a dramatic stop of a self-propelled drug smuggling sub, also in the Eastern Pacific.
Drug smugglers construct subs of up to 100 feet in length, typically made of wood, fibreglass, and Kevlar to avoid radar detection, and capable of carrying as much as eight tons of cargo. That amount of cocaine can have a street value of nearly $200 million. The subs themselves can cost well over $2 million to build and often feature snorkels, radar, and air-conditioned sleeping quarters for at least a captain, navigator, and a guard.
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