$250 million worth of cocaine seized from submarine-like vessel
The US Coast Guard said it has seized US$181 million (S$250 million) worth of cocaine from a submarine-like vessel in the eastern Pacific Ocean. It confiscated 5,400kg of cocaine from four smugglers on the semi-submersible ship, the agency said on Wednesday.
However, some drugs sank during the bust, AFP reported.
The vessel, which was first spotted about 320km south of Mexico, was carrying a total of 7,200kg of narcotics but as the ship was being towed, it took on water and sank.
Some 1,800kg of narcotics were lost in the process.
The seizure, which took place on July 18, was the "largest recorded semi-submersible interdiction in Coast Guard history", according to the agency.
The 12m-long vessel was deemed "unrecoverable" after it sank.
A US Navy plane spotted the blue-coloured semi-submersible and notified the Coast Guard, officials said, reported NBC news.
These vessels are a favourite of Colombian smugglers, who have been using them for over 10 years.
US Coast Guard chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy said: "All that you can see is the exhaust pipe and the cockpit from air, so they're very difficult to see."
The Coast Guard said there have been 25 known interdictions of semi-submersible vessels in the eastern Pacific Ocean since November 2006.
"Every interception of these semi-submersibles disrupts transnational organised crime networks and helps increase security and stability in the Western Hemisphere," Vice-Admiral Charles W. Ray, commander of the Pacific area, said in a statement.
Semi-submersible ships are designed for drug trafficking and because they are mostly submerged, they are particularly difficult to detect and interdict, the Coast Guard said.