Facing stepped up drug interdiction efforts on the Pacific coast, Colombian cocaine smugglers appear to be shifting tactics, attempting to use semi-submersible vessels in the Caribbean to transport their illicit cargo, reports the Christian Science Monitor. On Monday, the US Coast Guard said it had intercepted 15,000 pounds of cocaine – worth $180 million – in a semi-submersible vessel intercepted two weeks ago off the coast of Honduras.
The submarine-like boats have been used with increasing frequency in recent years to transport multi-ton quantities of cocaine up the Pacific coast from Colombia. The seizure off the east coast of Honduras marks the first time such a vessel has been seen in the Caribbean, officials said. The semi-submersible vessels are believed to have been constructed on the banks of jungle rivers in Colombia. They are built of fiberglass and wood, and designed to sit low in the water to avoid radar detection. The boats are painted to blend in with the sea surface. They are built with scuttling valves that allow the captain and crew to sink the vessel within moments of being detected by authorities.