Colombia Seizes One of ‘Rastrojos’ Drug Sub Fleet

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The Colombian Navy has found a semi-submersible vessel used to traffic drugs on the Pacific coast, thought to belong to the Rastrojos drug gang, in the second such finding this year.

On Sunday, the Colombian Navy, with the help of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Colombian Attorney General’s Office, discovered a semi-submersible·vessel believed to be used in the drug trade. It was found in a jungle river near the town of Mosquera in the western department of Nariño, according to a navy announcement.

The craft is reported to be 20 meters long and capable of carrying up to four people and 8 tons of cocaine. Its two engines would allow it to travel easily to the Central American coast, according to estimates provided to El Espectador.

Vice Admiral Rodolfo Amaya stated that the semi-submersible was used by the Rastrojos gang. The vessel has an estimated worth of $1 million.

InSight Crime Analysis

Seventy-seven drug trafficking vessels that were capable of traveling at least partly submerged beneath the surface of the ocean have been found in the region in the past decade — 60 of those within Colombian waters, El Mundo reported. According to the Navy, only two of the devices were fully submersible.

In February 2011, Colombian authorities seized their first fully submersible vessel, which constituted “a huge technological leap” for traffickers, according to Admiral Hernando Willis of Colombia’s Pacific Joint Command.

The vessel is the second semi-submersible to be seized this year by Colombian police. Most such “narco-subs” lack the technology to travel completely underwater, but still allow drug traffickers to transport their goods to countries like Costa Rica and Guatemala without detection. The Rastrojos, one of the most powerful transnational crime syndicates in Colombia, is believed to have a fleet of drug submarines at its disposal.

The recent discovery is further evidence of narcotraffickers’ growing reliance on sophisticated technology to outmaneuver authorities. As drug enforcement agencies increasingly target routes used by traffickers, smugglers must find less conspicuous ways to transport their goods. Colombian drug trafficking organizations like the Rastrojos have long used coastal routes to smuggle drugs up to Central America and Mexico, from where they are shipped to the United States.

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