Two submarines authorities believe were used to transport cocaine were discovered and seized by officials this week in Europe and South America.
The Colombian Navy said in a statement this week that it interdicted a semi-submersible approximately 50 feet long in the Pacific Ocean that contained nearly 3 tons of cocaine, which officials valued at $87 million. The value of that cocaine skyrockets into the hundreds of millions of dollars by the time that it hits the streets of the U.S.
The Colombian military found two individuals on the craft who were experiencing serious health conditions due to some sort of accident that occurred onboard involving breathing in toxic fumes. Two more individuals were found dead on board.
Al interior de la embarcación, fueron hallados dos sujetos en malas condiciones de salud, y dos cuerpos sin vida, al parecer por la inhalación de gases tóxicos. Esta operación evitó el ingreso de más de 87 millones de dólares a estructuras de organizaciones narcotraficantes. pic.twitter.com/RFfYIvoMu3
— Armada de Colombia (@ArmadaColombia) March 12, 2023
On Tuesday, Spain’s Civil Guard took possession of a submarine off the coast of the northwestern region of Galicia. The vessel was spotted on Monday and officials say it may have carried cocaine.
The vessel, about the same size as the one found by Colombia’s Navy in the Pacific, was empty when authorities seized it from the bottom of the ocean floor.
Spanish authorities seized a similar vessel with three tons of cocaine on it in 2019.
Finalmente el sumergible hallado en la zona de Vilagarcía de Aurosa (Pontevedra) es traslado al puerto de Xufre.#GEAS: Grupo Especial de Actividades Subacuáticas de la @guardiacivil pic.twitter.com/sgBIcCtt6n
— Guardia Civil 🇪🇸 (@guardiacivil) March 14, 2023
The majority of the world’s cocaine comes from three countries in northern South America: Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia.
Colombia produces by far the most cocaine out of three nations, with one estimate in 2017 suggesting that there were 460,000 acres in the country that were growing coca plants, a total much higher than when notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar ran the Medellin Cartel, according to The Washington Post.
The amount of cocaine being grown in Colombia is so high that “unpicked coca leaves are rotting in the fields,” the report said.
“We’ve never seen anything like it before,” said Luis Carlos Villegas, Colombia’s defense minister.
The drug cartels build submarines and semi-submersible craft largely in the mangrove swamps in Colombia. It can cost $1-2 million to build the vessel, which is then often used only once by the crew to transport hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cocaine to a destination. Once the drugs are offloaded from the vessel it is usually discarded by the crew.