CBP Air And Marine
Spot Submersible Loaded With Cocaine Worth $1 Billion
By Jim Douglas
April 12, 2012 - In three separate incidents in a
one-week period, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
(CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) P-3s operating out
of National Air Security Operations Centers in
Jacksonville, Florida (NASOC-JAX) and Corpus Christi,
Texas (NASOC-CC), assisted in the interdiction of a
narco Self Propelled Semi-Submersible (SPSS) carrying
close to 14,000 pounds of cocaine, and two go-fast
vessels carrying more than 4,400 pounds of cocaine with
a combined value of more than $1.3 billion.
A narco-submarine (also called narco-sub, drug sub and Bigfoot submarine) is a type of custom-made ocean-going self-propelled submersible vessel built by drug traffickers to smuggle drugs.
They are especially known to be used by Colombian drug
cartel members to export cocaine from Colombia to
Mexico, which is often then transported overland to the
The first vessels detected in 1993, were semi-submersibles since they could not dive; most of the craft was submerged with little more than the cockpit and the exhaust gas pipes above the water.
The modern narco-submarines are fully submersible submarines. Narco-submarines are designed specifically to be difficult to detect visually or by radar, sonar and infrared systems.
Two P-3s operating in the Western Caribbean assisted the Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S) in locating and tracking a Self Propelled Semi-Submersible off the coast of Nicaragua. The crew scuttled the SPSS but authorities recovered 13,889 pounds of cocaine worth more than $1 billion.
operating in the Western Caribbean spotted a go-fast vessel
carrying suspicious bales. The 40-foot twin-engine vessel was
spotted speeding north off the coast of Panama and appeared to
be carrying numerous packages when the Florida-based CBP P-3
began tracking the vessel. A local law enforcement patrol boat
was vectored in to board the vessel and after inspection, 2,200
pounds of cocaine worth approximately $164 million were
conducting routine patrols in the Western Caribbean detected an
open-hull go-fast vessel containing rectangular bales off the
coast of Panama. Local law enforcement officials were called in
to pursue, and after boarding the vessel, 2,200 pounds of
cocaine worth approximately $164 million were seized and four
crewmembers were arrested.
three seizures are in addition to $1.3 billion detected by the
CBP P-3s operating out of Jacksonville, Fla. and Corpus Christi,
Texas in fiscal year 2012 to date.
CBP OAM P-3s have
been an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions
operating in coordination with the Joint Interagency Task Force ? South
(JIATFS). The P-3s patrol in a 42 million-square mile area of the
Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, known as the Source and Transit
Zone, in search of drugs that are in transit towards U.S. shores.
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