Monday, July 5, 2010

Marchman Act Blog: Ecuadoreans, DEA seize drug-smuggling submarine before it can make its maiden voyage

[This picture of a diesel electric-powered submarine built in a remote jungle and captured near a tributary close to the Ecuador-Colombia border was released by the Ecuadorian National Police and Drug Enforcement Administration.]

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Drug Enforcement Administration said Saturday it has helped seize a submarine capable of transporting tons of cocaine.

DEA officials said that the diesel electric-powered submarine was constructed in a remote jungle and captured near a tributary close to the Ecuador-Colombia border. Ecuadorean authorities seized the sub before it could make its maiden voyage.

The sophisticated camouflaged vessel has a conning tower, periscope and air-conditioning system. It measured about nine-feet-high from the deck plates to the ceiling and stretched nearly a 100 feet long. The DEA says it was built for trans-oceanic drug trafficking.

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One person has been taken into custody. DEA Andean Regional Director Jay Bergman said the sub's nautical and payload capacity is a serious development.

Colombia's drug cartels have been known to use home-built submarines to smuggle large amounts of cocaine past U.S. and Colombian patrol boats to Central America en route to the United States.

Colombian authorities have discovered these vessels from time to time in recent years.

In August 2007, U.S. forces intercepted a submarine-like vessel packed with tons of cocaine off the coast of Guatemala. And in July 2008, Mexico's navy seized a homemade submarine carrying a drug shipment off the Pacific coast.

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