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.
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.
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.
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.