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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

US Coast Guard Busts Another Narco Sub with 12,000 Pounds of Cocaine

Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: Business Insider
By: Christopher Woody, Thanks again, Mike Vigil 
US Coast Guard cutter intercepted a "narco sub" carrying 12,000 pounds of cocaine in the Pacific Ocean this month.

"Narco subs" have become increasingly popular with smugglers, as they can carry huge drug loads and are hard to detect. Also: Colombia's cocaine production is at an all-time high, and the country's navy keeps catching 'narco subs'.

Coast Guard crew members aboard the cutter Valiant intercepted a self-propelled semi-submersible carrying 12,000 pounds of cocaine in the eastern Pacific Ocean this month, arresting four suspected smugglers in the process.
The 40-foot vessel, of a type often called a "narco sub" (though most are not fully submersible), was first detected and tracked by a maritime patrol aircraft. The Joint Interagency Task Force South, a multinational body that coordinates law-enforcement efforts in the waters around Central and South America, directed the Valiant to intercept it.

A Coast Guard release didn't give an exact date for the seizure, saying only that it took place in September and that the Valiant arrived on the scene after sunset.
Coast Guard crew members aboard a "narco sub" in the Pacific Ocean with a suspected smuggler, September 2019. Photo / US Coast Guard

The cutter launched two small boats carrying members of its crew and two members of the Coast Guard Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team.

They caught up with the narco sub in the early morning hours and boarded it with the help of the Colombian navy, which arrived a short time later.

The crew members transferred more than 1,100 pounds of cocaine from the sub to the Valiant but were unable to get the rest because of concerns about the sub's stability. (The total value of the drugs was estimated at more than $165 million.)

"This interdiction was an all-hands-on-deck evolution, and each crew member performed above and beyond the call of duty," Cmdr. Matthew Waldron, commanding officer of the Valiant, said in the release.
Narco subs have appeared in the waters between the US and South America for years and have only gotten more sophisticated. But they are still homemade vessels, often built in jungles in Colombia, and can be unsteady on the open ocean, particularly when law enforcement stop them to board.

Narco subs typically cost $1 million to $2 million to built, but their multimillion-dollar drug cargoes more than make up for the expense.

"Colombian traffickers like to use the semi-submersibles because they are hard to detect" and cheaper than full-fledged submarines, Mike Vigil, former director of international operations at the US Drug Enforcement Administration, told Business Insider in 2018.

The vessels are typically made of fiberglass and the most expensive component is the engine. Some even have lead linings to reduce their infrared signature, Vigil said.
Bales of cocaine seized from a suspected smuggling vessel on the deck of the US Coast Guard cutter Valiant in September. Photo/ US Coast Guard

The Coast Guard in late 2017 said it had seen a "resurgence" of low-profile smuggling vessels like narco subs.

"We're seeing more of these low-profile vessels — 40-plus feet long ... it rides on the surface, multiple outboard engines, moves 18, 22 knots ... and they can carry large loads of contraband," Coast Guard commandant Adm. Karl Schultz told Business Insider in an October 2018 interview.

Schultz and other Coast Guard officials pointed to narco subs as a sign of smugglers' ability to adapt to pressure. The service has pursued what Schultz called a "push-out-the-border strategy," sending ships into the Pacific to bust drugs at the point in the smuggling process when the loads are the largest.

For the Valiant, that meant this particular bust coincided with a mariner's milestone: crossing the equator.

"There are no words to describe the feeling Valiant crew is experiencing right now," Waldron said. "In a 24-hour period, the crew both crossed the equator and intercepted a drug-laden self-propelled semi-submersible vessel."

Both are "momentous events in any Cutterman's career," Waldron added. "Taken together, however, it is truly remarkably unprecedented."

"Narco Sub" Phenomenon on the Increase:
The so-called 'narco-subs' phenomenon is on the increase. Last year there was a bumper crop with 37 incidents reported and this year is not far behind.

There are a couple of things which are not widely known about these vessels. The first is that most are mass produced in secret jungle workshops. This means near-identical copies produced in multiple batches over years. Although many designs look very similar to untrained eyes, each master boat builder leaves their personal mark in the way they express their ideas.

Subtle design choices act as a fingerprint to connect separate reported incidents. In this way, thanks to my database of incidents, I can suggest that the narco-sub the Coast Guard shone a spotlight on Monday is the 8th discovered from this specific lineage. On March 30, Mexican forces found an identical vessel, and on June 18 the Coast Guard Cutter Munro captured yet another example.

If we assume a 20% intercept rate, which is generous, then we can extrapolate this to guess that the master boat builder in question has probably built around 30 nearly identical boats. That's a substantial chunk of the roughly 900 narco-subs that I estimate have been built over the years.

Which leads us to the second little-known fact: Analysts don't have an agreed name for this family of narco-subs, or any others. Unlike warships there isn't a public record of how many were built or what their makers called them. Law Enforcement agencies haven't yet published any detailed taxonomies of individual families.

The U.S. Coast Guard uses both 'Low Profile Vessel' and 'Self-Propelled Semi-Submersible' as general terms and not always consistently. So by my own classification this is the 8th example of the 10th family of low profile vessels which have their motors mounted internally (as opposed to outboard motors). So LPV-IM-10 for short. Maybe it will catch on.

In the meantime you can safely bet that this won't be the last narco-sub interdicted this year. But most will get through, delivering literally tons of drugs, most of which will end up in the United States.


  1. Great catch, they seized the sub, contraband and arrested the suspects.
    That reminds me, the Mexican Marina's are lagging behind, in meeting the yearly quota of 4 drugs busts per year, so far only one bust is recorded. No quota no money to fight the drug war, will be allocated for 2020 from USA.

    1. Are you for reals dam marina on payroll obviously

    2. 9:22 AMLO refused to receive funds to continue the US fueled war ON drugs, I have no doubt those funds are now being used to finance the tropa del infierno to teach somebody a lesson... Killing a few to present work helps with the program and propaganda against the hope of Mexico.
      These young ones still do not wear laboutinis, Lamborghinis or diamond and silk encrusted weapons and jewelery, or belts, their creators do, I am sure.

  2. Orale more bad hombres get arrested. Do the crime pay the time.

  3. Replies
    1. 9:34 Mike Vigil has made a name for himself, the international operations chief for the DEA is one of the most highly decorated agents, something not any asshole achieves.
      It does not make him infallible, i'll give you that.
      --Explain your contempt for him, can you?

  4. Excellent work more criminals going to prison, they will go crazy living in an 8x10 cell, at least they won't be homeless.

  5. I guess it would be hard to identify from the air the cocaine farms in Colombia, I am sure their cocaine does not get grown there but in neighboring countries, and Colombia is just the staging area as always, full of cocaine cowboys and businessmen that know better than to put their own arses on the line, like former president and founder of PEPES, AUC, paracos and milicos and partner of the FARC and ELN and former employee of Pablo Escobar, Alvaro Uribe Velez, and his puppet Ivan Duque would not know a thing about any of it...

    1. Coca is most definately grown and processed to cocaine in Colombia.

    2. its actually 100% legal to grow its still used in different foods and soft drinks and is the countrys largest cash crop.

    3. 3:14 yes, Colombia produces cocaine, but not all of it and not so much of it, not with seven US military bases, Colombian military, polesias, death squads and drones and airplanes "looking for communist guerrillas and drug traffickers all over the country"... No mamen!

  6. 3 cheers for the interdiction. I hope they guard the hall closely or it will b 4 sale shortly.

    1. That happens in Mexico, this is in America wake up.

    2. 12:43 in America, some wise guy says wake the Fack Up!
      And I would recommend the same overdose of reality for yourself.
      In "America" you won't die of it.

  7. I just don’t understand why thousands of poor people in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia spend all their efforts picking coca leaves, then cutting, stomping, and other people risk life in heavy plane to bring to same place with no cities around, and with specific chemicals very explosive and from all over the world just to be able to carry their final product down a long, long river to a million dollar submarine that may or may not make it to the land bridge to Mexico, but If sub makes the trip successfully or not the million dollar sub is disposable like condom. I mean the money to fund all of that apparently is attractive enough for some Rolex wearing man sipping a michelada on his 58 foot boat off Panama to throw the dice and win 2-10 times more than he loses.


    Want to hear a funny joke? The USA does not make billions of dollars every year at the poor and middle class American citizens expense in the war on drugs! Jajajajaja

    Saludos desde el puerto de Balboa

    1. 5:23 you are not aware of the big million dollar fines the biggest American and British banks have paid for their money laundering around the world..
      "Stung by big fines, Big Banks Beef Up Money-Laundering Controls"
      By Yalma Onaran, Bloomberg
      --HSBC added 4 000 new employees, after 1.9 billion USD fine.
      But it has been going on since forever, still goes on, only El Chapo of all the Mexican drug trafficking criminals has been paraded by Forbes for his imaginary 1 billion dollars nobody can find... No chance Carlos Salinas de Gortari is going to be investigated for his appointment as vice-president of Dow Jones he got after "buying it with a ten billion dollar deposit" he got from nobody knows where...


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