16,000 Pounds of Cocaine in a Homemade Submarine and the Biggest Drug Bust in USCG History

by Owen James Burke


The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton approach the suspected vessel on July 19th. Photo: Lanola Stone/Coast Guard via AFP – Getty Images.

$181 million dollars is the estimated value of the 300+ bales–16,000 pounds–of cocaine seized by the United States Coast Guard 200 miles off the coast of Mexico last month, what is apparently the largest confiscation of illicit drugs in the force’s history.

It’s estimated that as many as one-third of all drugs trafficked into the United States are reaching the nation’s boarders by way of homemade semi-submersible subs, like this self-propelled 40-footer from Colombia.

The vessels are painted in drab blues in grays to keep camouflaged and operate with no lights. All that’s visible to a keenly trained eye from a surveillance plane is a small plume of exhaust smoke and the tiny decks barely protruding from the sea’s surface.

Coast Guard Vice Admiral Charles W. Ray, commander of the Pacific, was quoted in a statement saying, “Every interception of these semi-submersibles disrupts transnational organized crime networks and helps increase security and stability in the Western Hemisphere.” I’m not so sure.

Watch NBC’s news report below, and read more at The Chattanooga Times Free Press. –OJB

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