A narco submarine was discovered off the coast of Colombia containing over two tons of cocaine worth $87 million, as well as two dead bodies.
The 15-meter long homemade sub was found floating in the Pacific over the weekend, most likely bound for Central America, an important corridor for transporting cocaine north toward the United States.
It was when they boarded the sub that the Colombian Marines discovered dead bodies, as well as another two men who were alive but apparently suffering from the effects of poisonous gasses generated by the boat’s fuel.
It’s not clear whether the two people who died suffered from gas poisoning.
Video from the seizure provided by the Colombian government showed one unconscious man being removed on a stretcher and carried towards what looks like a parked ambulance. Authorities said both sick men were transported to Tumaco on the Colombian Pacific coast.
Footage showed the vessel floating low and motionless in the open sea, and soldiers pulling packages of cocaine out of the sub’s hull, which was flooded. Photos of the seizure don’t depict a chase. It’s possible that the homemade sub had been idling in the water before it was discovered by the authorities.
The 2.6 tons of cocaine retrieved from the sub, much of it wrapped in black plastic, can be seen in the footage being transferred onto a Colombian military vessel floating alongside the narco sub, filling it completely.
Increasingly-sophisticated narco subs like this are a popular method used by Colombian drug traffickers for moving cocaine out of their areas of dominance toward trafficking partners in Central America and Mexico. Cartel operatives build the subs from boats or their parts, waterproof them and install engines inside. Their submersible nature makes it harder for radar systems to detect them.
And criminal organizations have nurtured the skillset of those building such vessels within their ranks. Last year, Colombian Óscar Moreno Ricardo, who spent the last two decades building sophisticated narco subs for Latin America’s powerful drug cartels, was arrested in Colombia, bringing an end to a long career facilitating dope smuggling to the U.S.
Clearly, others shared his expertise and narco subs have continued to proliferate in waters up and down the coasts of Central America and Mexico. A number of drug trafficking networks operate in Colombia, including the powerful Gulf Clan, whose former leader Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, known as “Otoniel,” pleaded guilty to three federal indictments in the U.S in January.