More Fun With Drugs and Submarines

Screencap from the CNN story.

As if the U.S. submarine fleet didn’t have enough to handle what with all their nuclear missiles and nicotine fits and all, now they have to worry about running headlong into Colombian narco-subs packed to the rafters with cocaine.

According to a report in RTT news picked up by CNN:

The Colombian Navy has seized a fully submersible submarine believed to be used by drug cartels to smuggle cocaine to Mexican shores.

Powered by two diesel engines, the 31-meter-long fiberglass vessel was found hidden in a jungle area in Timbiqui in south-western Colombia on Sunday, media reports quoting Navy officials said on Monday.

Capable of traveling nine meters below water surface, it was the most sophisticated drug smuggling submarine the Navy had found so far.

Navy officials said the ready to launch submarine could carry four people and up to eight tons of cargo.


And, having been to that region of the world a time or two, I’m gonna lay odds that the interior probably smelled like cigarette smoke.

Even though it’s built out of fiberglass, you can tell from the shape of the thing that this vessel is miles ahead of the more typical narco-trafficking “semi-submersibles” that the Colombian Navy started intercepting in 1993. Those puppies don’t go all the way underwater and are essentially commercial boats that have been thoroughly refitted in a way that’s as thoroughly ingenious as it is haphazard. It’s not like the Cartel wants to qualify for maritime insurance from Lloyd’s of London.

This screencap from an earlier VBS.TV video shows that, as the Colombian officer in the documentary explains, Colombian smuggling vessels are built out of cigarette boats, covered over and fitted with pipes so the crew can breathe and the engines can pump out exhaust. This one below looks pretty crude compared to the new discovery, which has a conning tower and could travel fully submerged.

Screencap from VBS.TV

I am reminded of the case of Ukrainian-Jewish-Israeli mobster Ludwig “Tarzan” Fainberg, who was expelled from the USSR in the 1980s and became the most prominent Russian mobster in the United States during the huge influx of the Organizatsiya into the U.S. in the 1990s. At the tail end of his career as a federal informant, he tried to buy a Russian Navy sub for use by a Colombian narcotics-smuggling operation. The quoted price? $5.5 million.

In any event, the Colombians never got their Russian sub — at least not from Fainberg. His deal never went through, because the investigation into him was wrapped up and, in light of his cooperation with the U.S. authorities, he was deported to Israel following his conviction, rather than being incarcerated in the U.S. (Israel later shipped Tarzan to Canada, where he was arrested and re-deported for being involved with the “sex trade,” whatever that means.)

Not like they needed it, apparently. The new captured sub is, by my estimation, about a quarter to a fifth the size of the smallest Russian naval diesel-electric subs (which, in any event, aren’t made out of fiberglass).

I’m betting this one is a hell of a lot easier to park in the jungle than Tarzan Fainberg’s would have been.

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