Submarine smugglers use high-powered deep-sea diesel fuel in multi-country cross-border ride

Cocaine-trafficking submarines aren’t just a U.S. phenomenon; they’re also visible in Colombia’s Bajo Cauca region.

The announcement earlier this week comes from NBC News, which reported last October on these drug smugglers’ unusual speed boat. Cameras onboard the “narco vessel” captured a trans-Atlantic journey from a tropical village near the Colombian port of Barranquilla to a Western Europe destination.

“The investigation reveals that the narco boat left Miami, Florida, and traveled to Barranquilla, Colombia, from where it crossed the Gulf of Mexico to the beaches of the Caribbean island of Curacao,” NBC News reported.

The remote-controlled submarine ran on special fuels that double as a fuel injector system. Some of the diesel caught fire when it re-entered the water, said Italian naval architect and port engineer Giuseppe Schiavelli.

To put these boats into perspective, this type of submarine hasn’t been spotted in the United States since the 1980s, when smugglers would launch one at sea from cargo ships, the government watchdog group Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in September.

“Not only did they travel 100 miles below the surface using fuel that had been converted from a marine fuel system to a fuel injector, they were able to hide the travel from other military and civilian observation aircraft, thus leaving their countermeasures exposed and easier to detect and disable by air or naval forces,” the GAO reported.

The recent surge in cocaine trafficking to Central America and then to Europe has attracted attention from authorities in U.S. cities that border Central America, with three confirmed arrests last week in Los Angeles and 10 people in seven Texas cities arrested on alleged roles in a drug-trafficking organization, U.S. law enforcement officials told Fox News last year.

But those arrests came amid a surge in narco-submarine trafficking that’s been happening for more than a decade in southern Colombia. There is so much drug smuggling occurring around the southwest port city of Buenaventura that it has been dubbed the “ship of shame,” with drug traffickers turning to the submarine because it costs less to transport and the “steamy” air temperature can be used to funnel drugs into the “cooler waters” of Central America, according to National Geographic.

Source: United States Coast Guard

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