Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Drug cartels take trafficking to the sea in custom-built, cocaine-laden 'narco subs'

Drug traffickers are spending $1 million a pop to build boats that look like submarines and can carry 4 tons of cocaine for 2,000 miles without refueling. Nicknamed "narco subs," they're made to sneak loads up 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, Andean regional director for 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." At least 13 of the craft have been stopped and their crews prosecuted in U.S. courts since October 2008, according to the Justice Department. The first was intercepted in 2006. The use of narco subs underscores how drug cartels have sought to go over, under or around borders, and have prompted worries that the craft could be used to smuggle weapons or people.

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. "This will go down quickly," advised a helicopter shadowing two speedboats. 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, law enforcement official say. 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.



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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