Colombian police have reported finding two drug-smuggling submarines close to the country’s Pacific coast in under a week, both of which they claim belonged to the FARC rebel group.
The first vessel (in photo, above), found in the southwest Valle del Cauca department on Friday, had the capacity to hold 10 tons of cocaine and was equipped with navigation equipment and a GPS system, according to the police (see video below).
Luis Alvarado, director of the Anti-Narcotics Police, said that intelligence work led to the discovery of the submarine, which was being guarded by 30 guerrillas who fled upon the arrival of troops. Press agency EFE reported that, according to experts, the 16 by 1.8 meter vessel could have traveled to Central America, and perhaps Mexico, without problems.
A second submarine, which authorities also said belonged to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was found north of the first, in the province of Choco, police announced Monday.
Police said that both vessels belonged to Jorge Neftali Umenza Velasco, alias “Mincho,” head of the 30th Front of the rebel group, according to some reports.
Submersible and semi-submersible vessels are increasingly popular with Colombian drug trafficking groups, as they can transport large amounts of narcotics undetected under the surface of the ocean.
However, it is not likely that the FARC actually made or owned the vessel, as this would be a significant departure from the organization’s usual modus operandi. The group occupies itself with producing cocaine rather than with shipping it out of the country, and it is forced to be constantly mobile, under pressure from the security forces, so would be unlikely to invest in a large item like a submarine.