The U.S. Coast Guard made a record-breaking cocaine bust. About 16,000 pounds of the narcotic, neatly stashed away in a semi-submersible vessel was intercepted in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
The Coast Guard made a historic cocaine drug bust last month when it stopped a mini-submarine carrying 275 bales of cocaine worth more than $181 million wholesale. The Self-Propelled Semi-Submersible (SPSS) vessel – a low-riding stealth vessel often used to smuggle large quantities of drugs across the ocean – was operated by a crew of four, who have also been taken into custody.
Dubbed a “narco-submarine,” the partially submerged vessel was spotted and seized more than 200 miles south of Mexico, reported CBS News. Speaking about the record-setting cocaine bust Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray, commander, Pacific Area said,
“Our success intercepting this drug-laden, self-propelled semi-submersible is a testament to the collaboration of our partner agencies, and demonstrates the importance of our increased presence in the Western Hemisphere. Every interception of these semi-submersibles disrupts transnational organized crime networks and helps increase security and stability in the Western Hemisphere.”
After extracting 12,000 pounds, the Coast Guard kept the remaining stash within the submersible to help stabilize the vessel and attempted to tow it to shore to study its working and help improve their technology of interception. However, their plans literally sank in the ocean, when the crudely constructed vessel began taking in water and sank with more than $90 million worth of cocaine.
Despite the increased patrolling and advanced interception capabilities, the drug smugglers are getting more audacious and innovative in trying to get their cocaine and other drugs into the United States of America. In fact, the same Coast Guard team has busted 15 different drug smuggling attempts in recent times. The Bay Area crew successfully prevented more than 33,000 pounds of cocaine worth over $540 million. All this, within the last four months alone.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for smugglers to bring in cocaine through the land route, hence their engineers seem to be building bigger and better sea-faring vessels. It is evident from the fact that the Coast Guard has seized 25 such stealth vessels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean since November 2006, reported Yahoo. According to the U.S. Foreign Military Studies Office report, almost 80 percent of drugs smuggled into America came via the sea, and about 30 percent of these drugs travelled in submersible vessels.
[Image Credit | Joe Raedle / Getty Images, U.S. Coast Guard District 11]