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Coke Boats Winning Their War
by James Dunnigan
April 10, 2008

Discussion Board on this DLS topic

South American drug gangs are apparently having considerable success with their use of submarines to move cocaine to North American and Europe. Based on current trends, the U.S. Coast Guard expects to encounter six or seven of these craft a month this year, and more next year.

These are not submarines in the true sense of the word, but "semi-submersibles". They are fiberglass boats, powered by a diesel engine, with a small "conning tower" above the water, providing the crew, and engine, with fresh air, and permitting the crew to navigate the boat. A boat of this type is the only practical kind of "submarine" for drug smuggling. A real submarine would be much more difficult to build, although you can buy commercial subs for a million dollars or so. These, however, can carry only a few hundred pounds of cargo, and not for long distances.

The semi-submersibles are built, often using specially made components brought in from foreign components, in areas along the Colombian coast, or other drug gang controlled territory). Russian naval architects and engineers have been discovered among those designing and building these boats. Some of these subs cost a million dollars to construct, and carry over ten tons of cocaine. As many as half of them are captured or lost at sea. But this is apparently more successful than other types of transportation.

Some subs have been caught while being towed by a larger ship. Apparently this enables the semi-submersibles to cover long distances, and then be cut loose for the final approach to the shore of California or some area in Europe or on the east coast of North America.

These subs are not stealthy enough to avoid detection all the time. However, it appears that these semi-submersibles do work, because the drug gangs keep using them. Most of them are apparently getting through. Delivery by sea is now the favored method for cocaine smugglers, because the United States has deployed military grade aircraft detection systems, and caught too many of the airborne drug shipments. The smugglers did their math, and realized that improvised submarines were a more cost-effective way to go.

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