Since 2008, Drug Cartels Have Been Hi Tech with Private Fleets of Submarines and Jet Aricraft

Posted on July 1, 2010


CNN.com is featuring an article today by another news outlet whose work they admire that has made a report on the submarines now used by drug cartels.  Here is a portion of it:

Homemade submarines up the drug smuggling ante

By David Feinberg, VBS.TV correspondent
June 30, 2010 — Updated 2201 GMT (0601 HKT)’)

Buenaventura, a strategic port city and maritime gateway to Central and North America, is a haven for the newest clandestine agent in the illegal drug trade: the “narco-sub.” As this decades-old conflict has ebbed and flowed, one thing has remained constant: the sheer ingenuity of narco-traffickers to invent and exploit new methods and routes for smuggling.

We were granted access to the Málaga naval base about an hour outside of Buenaventura, which has been at the forefront of interdicting these vessels. The Colombian navy said some cartels are allocating increasing resources to the development of new smuggling technology.

This Drug Cartel methodology has been known to the US for several years now – along with the fleet Boeing 747s they have been amassing to ferry their product to market in Europe:

Next time you fly trans Atlantic, it won’t be the guy in the seat next to you with the smoldering pants that will be the problem; it will be that Boeing 747 with the phony tail numbers winging above or below you on the way to West Africa loaded with drugs for European distribution and possibly weapons for al Qaeda. [On My Watch]

While the CNN reprint of the excellent article by VBS.TV is generous and additional details of the submarines employed by the Drug Lords, it is welcome. However, the ingenious use of small submarines (without bathroom facilities) is not new.  Articles about the deployment of this technology have been out there for a few years now.

Here is a report in 2008 from The Military Times:

U.S. captures $187 million drug haul in submarine

Way to go Coast Guard!!!! Woooo hooooo

By John McPhaul Tue Sep 16, 11:48 PM ET

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) – The U.S. coast guard captured a submarine-like vessel equipped with sophisticated navigation equipment and stuffed with seven tonnes of cocaine, Costa Rican authorities said on Tuesday.

In a difficult nighttime operation during the weekend, U.S. officials arrested four Colombian smugglers on board the 59-foot (18-meter) steel and fiberglass vessel in international waters before they could sink it.
“The boat was partially submerged but you can’t call it amateurish. The drug traffickers are not amateurs,” Jose Pastor, a spokesman for Costa Rica’s public security ministry told Reuters.
Several makeshift submarines toting drugs have been captured recently on the high seas. In July, the Mexican special forces captured a similar submarine carrying 200 tightly wrapped packages of cocaine.

On Saturday, the U.S. Coast Guard sent a team of special agents on small boats to surprise the smugglers after a U.S. Navy airplane spotted the sub. When the traffickers realized the agents were on their deck they shifted the boat violently in an attempt to throw the officers into the sea.
After that failed, they complied with orders not to open hatches designed to sink the craft, said the Coast Guard.
“This was the most dangerous operation of my career,” Todd Bagetis, the lieutenant in charge of the Coast Guard team, said in a statement.

With the growing links between al Qaeda and the Cartels [see article about rogue aircraft above], it may not only be a case of smuggling drugs but of smuggling terrorists or supplies to them in the US.

As the CNN reprint points out, the US government has just about shut down air lifts of product into the US so the Cartel has taken its limitless funding and poured it into alternative technology.  Let’s hope the government is checking out hot air balloons that travel silently over Arizona in groups.  They may be delivering the cargo from a cartel sub to a neighbor near you.

Al Jazeera video from February, 2008