How $1 Million “Narco Subs” Play Cat And Mouse Game With U.S.


At least 13 “narco subs” have been seized and their crews prosecuted since 2008, says the Houston Chronicle. Drug traffickers are spending $1 million a pop to build the boats that look like submarines and can carry 4 tons of cocaine for 2,000 miles without refueling. They sneak loads from South America to Mexico, where the drugs are offloaded and taken overland into the United States. “It is a semi-submersible coffin,” said Jay Bergman of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “You batten down the hatches and you are doing everything to not be detected sailing in the middle of the ocean.”

The latest craft was captured last month when a Houston Chronicle journalist was aboard a Customs and Border Protection plane flying from Corpus Christi. The P-3 turboprop was 500 miles off Colombia’s coast, coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Dallas. 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. 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. “They know they are playing a fatal game of cat and mouse,” the DEA’s Bergman said of the crews. “They come from a lineage, a maritime lineage. They are used to the sea. They are willing to take that next risk.”

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