Every year, semi-immersible and fully immersible vessels carrying hundreds of tons of cocaine up the coast of Mexico toward California while others sail to Europe.
Note: Narco-subs are featured in the upcoming Detective Tom Stone thriller novel which is currently unnamed. Stay up-to-date with our Reader’s Group for fun specials and great reading.
The narcotics submarines, known as narco-subs, are manufactured along the rivers of Colombia and Ecuador, then assembled closer to the ocean and set to sail with a crew of only a few men. While many get through, others get detected in the ocean.
Crewmen on the Coast Guard cutter Munro sped through the Pacific Ocean, pulling alongside a submarine sailing at the water’s surface, gauging the right moment to leap on top. One misstep and the crew, dressed in full combat gear, could slip in between the vessels or into the choppy surf and risk drowning. The sub was suspected of carrying illegal narcotics.
As the cutter aimed and maneuvered closer, the crewmen readied themselves and then leapt on top of the semi-submersible boat, went to the hatch and pounded on it with rifles at the ready. The hatch opened and a shaken crew member raised his hands as the Coast Guard sailors shouted surrender instructions.
The submarine was escorted to shore, the crew arrested and 16,000 pounds of cocaine confiscated. The June 17 incident in the eastern Pacific Ocean was one of 14 drug seizures that the crew of the Munro made in three months, capturing 39,000 pounds of cocaine and 933 pounds of marijuana with a street value worth over $569 million dollars.
The Danger of Narco-Subs
The subs cost up to two million dollars to build and take about a year, but the investment can return up to one hundred times that amount.
Many of the subs now produced are capable of carrying ten tons of cocaine and they’re now making their way to Europe as well. Spanish police captured a narco-sub off its coast in November 2019, the first time that one was detected and caught off the coast of Spain. The craft measured 68 feet in length and was seven-and-a-half feet wide, much larger than most narco-subs.
Trafficking cocaine is the primary objective of the narco-sub, but what trafficking stores of weapons to arm terrorist cells in the U.S. or in western Europe?
It would be easy to have a stockpile of firearms that can easily be disassembled and assembled en route to the target region. They’re stealthy enough to carry any illicit drug or weapon that’s a threat to the country.
Tracking and Fighting Narco-Subs
U.S. agencies cooperating include the Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Navy, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and law enforcement agencies throughout Latin America. The DEA “is the single point-of-contact for drug and drug money-laundering investigations overseas,” as stated on the agency’s website.
The DEA provides training and equipment to other countries along with investigative assistance.
Slowing the rate of drug trafficking will continue as a challenge since so much money is at stake. Major drug cartels are Mexican and Colombian and generate from $18 billion a year to $39 billion in drug-related income. That kind of money will allow the cartels to find new ways to take risks and distribute the goods.
Excerpt from Our Upcoming Crime Thriller Novel–the 5th in the Detective Tom Stone Series
In this excerpt, a power boat makes a scheduled dump of canisters filled with cocaine in the ocean off California’s Ventura County.
This was Anacapa Island, uninhabited and rarely welcoming any of the tourist boats or park rangers who oversaw the Channel Islands National Park. The arch grew more recognizable, and as he piloted beneath it he signaled the crew, “Aqui.”
Quickly, the men grabbed the barrels, grunted and began heaving them into the water. Rain was pouring so hard that it wasn’t possible to hear the barrels hitting the waves. The terrible weather was a natural barrier against being spotted and arrested for smuggling cocaine. Each barrel was the size of a small beer keg. One after another, the men wrestled them from below deck and tossed them into the ocean. Men bumped into each other and swore with irritation from the weariness of the misty voyage. The pilot, holding the wheel and making sure the boat didn’t get grounded on jagged rocks, snapped at the men to keep them focused.
The last barrel was tossed into the ocean as the pilot revved the craft and pulled from beneath the arch. He gradually powered the engine and the island grew distant. He sighed relief for another safe mission, then hit the throttle and headed south toward Mexico.
Immediately after the cargo was thrown into the sea, a Zodiac gas-powered, inflatable boat emerged from beneath an overhang of the island and a few more men, dressed in heavy rain gear, laid a net over the barrels, snagging them like they were a school of fish. Once the netting was in place the pilot of the Zodiac pressed a button on a transmitter in his pocket.
After a few minutes, bubbles appeared on the surface and a submarine rose into view. The craft was sleek and narrow, powered by battery cells and carried a minimal crew.
The hatch opened and gunmen appeared. This was the signal for the Zodiac to guide the barrels toward the sub. One of the gunmen shouted below deck and men came up the ladder to haul in the canisters. It took several trips up and down the ladder with men bumping into each other and the gunmen swearing at them. Once the cargo was transferred and the laborers were thoroughly soaked, the gunmen disappeared below and the hatch was sealed. The craft dipped below the surface and made its way out the channel. The crew in the Zodiac hauled in the net and motored back between rock cliffs and into hidden sea caves. But before entering and declaring that the mission was accomplished, they saw a flash in the night and heard a dull roar like an explosion. The pilot of the Zodiac thought he heard an exchange of gunfire. Through the rain, he saw the shapes of what looked like speed boats circling in the distance. Another explosion rocked the night.
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Book 3 Tom Stone: Day of the Dead
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