Colombian officials have found the third “narco-submarine” in less than a month, in a makeshift shipyard on the Caribbean coast.
The operation took place in Cordoba, a northern province of the country. According to Colombian police, the sub belonged to the Gaitanistas drug gang, also known as the Gulf Clan, Urabeños, and Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia – AGC), and was still under construction at the time of the raid. The vessel was reportedly 20 meters long, valued at $1.5 million, and had the capacity to transport up to six tons of drugs.
The location of the latest discovery is unusual, as the majority of such smuggling vessels have been found on the Pacific coast. In two separate operations on September 24 and 26, police captured two other narco-subs in the Valle del Cauca and Choco provinces. Authorities said that both belonged to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country’s largest rebel group, although InSight Crime considers this to be unlikely.
Some anti-drug officials have expressed concern over the technological complexity of submersible and semi-submersible trafficking vessels, which they say has progressed tremendously in recent years. In July 2010, for instance, officials found the first known fully-submersible drug submarine in Ecuador, which U.S. officials referred to as a “quantum leap” in the drug trade.
In February of this year, Colombian officials discovered the first domestic fully-submersible trafficking vessel, indicating that the necessary engineering expertise has become more readily available to drug trafficking organizations in the region.