The fight against the seemingly unstoppable drugs smuggling trade continues with the announcement that the Colombian Navy has seized yet another narco sub carrying cocaine in the Pacific Ocean.
The operation brings the number of semi-submersibles seized by the Colombian authorities to 13 this year alone.
The Colombian Navy told how it seized the 17-metre- (56-foot-) long drug sub as the blue-coloured vessel, manned by three Colombians, headed towards Central America where they are distributed to cartels to smuggle into Europe through Spain.
In an apparently suicidal bid, the men attempted to sink the sub, along with its cargo, by opening the vessel’s valves after noticing the approaching Navy units.
But the sailors arrived in time and prevented the narco sub and its occupants from sinking.
They then seized 125 black packages from the vessel, which later tested positive for cocaine hydrochloride.
The authorities revealed that the seized drugs totalled 2,410 kilogrammes (380 stone) in weight, with a total value of more than USD 81 million.
The men were taken to the Primary Coast Guard Station in Tumaco District and later placed at the disposal of the Office of the Attorney General.
They face from six to 14 years in prison if convicted of “use, construction, commercialisation, possession, and transportation of semi-submersibles or submersibles”.
The Colombian Navy said in a statement that ” operation for maritime control and comprehensive maritime security under the Joint Campaign Strategic Plan ‘Ayacucho’, has intercepted a 17-metre-long semi-submersible while navigating in the waters of the southern Colombian Pacific heading towards Central America.
“The blue-coloured illegal vessel, manned by three Colombian nationals, was detected by units of the Colombian Navy deployed in the Pacific Ocean, who swiftly and decisively carried out the maritime interdiction of the boat.
“Upon noticing the presence of the Colombian Marines, the individuals on board attempted to open valves and sink the semi-submersible with its cargo, but their attempts were unsuccessful as the military personnel prevented it, ensuring the safety of the three men and recovering the vessel and its cargo.
“Subsequently, during the verification of the semi-submersible, the military personnel found 125 black packages inside, which were transported aboard a Navy ship in the area.
“The individuals, the semi-submersible, and the material were taken to the pier of the Primary Coast Guard Station in the district of Tumaco, Narino, where personnel from the Technical Investigation Corps (CTI) proceeded to conduct the Homologated Preliminary Identification Test (PIPH) on the seized cargo, confirming it to be cocaine hydrochloride weighing 2,410 kilogrammes.
“The men were placed at the disposal of the Attorney General’s Office, in accordance with Law 1311 of 2009, which categorises the use, construction, commercialisation, possession, and transportation of semi-submersibles or submersibles as a presumed crime with penalties ranging from six to 14 years.
“Likewise, the illegal vessel, along with the seized cargo, was handed over to the competent authorities.
“With this significant blow, the Naval Institution prevented over 81 million dollars from entering the finances of organisations involved in narco-trafficking and the distribution of over six million doses.
“The Colombian Navy will continue to carry out joint and inter-institutional operations to deploy all its logistical and operational capabilities in order to counteract the criminal activities of different narco-trafficking organisations.”
From 1993 to the present, the Colombian Navy has intercepted and seized 228 illegal semi-submersible and submersible vessels loaded with drugs, according to local media.