The Colombian Navy has intercepted a semi-submersible vessel carrying nearly 800kg of cocaine, including packages marked with a scorpion symbol. This is the first “narco-sub” to be detected this year in Colombian waters. The navy estimates the drugs to be worth $27m (£21m) and believes the vessel was headed to the US or Europe. Three individuals on board have been arrested.
The navy intercepted the sub in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday. The packages contained cocaine hydrochloride, many of which were marked with a scorpion or labelled “Winnie” and “Carnal”. The suspects and the drugs were taken to Buenaventura, a port city in Colombia. Further information about the suspects has not yet been disclosed.
The Colombian Navy stated that this seizure prevented nearly $27m from entering drug trafficking organizations and stopped the distribution of approximately two million doses worldwide.
Narco-subs, often homemade from fibreglass and plywood, are commonly used for drug transportation due to their ability to go largely unnoticed and be sunk after delivery. Colombia is the largest global producer of cocaine.
In 2023, the Colombian Navy seized 30 tonnes of cocaine and over five tonnes of marijuana. In May of the previous year, the largest narco-sub ever recorded in Colombia was intercepted carrying three tonnes of cocaine.
The UN reported that in 2022, Colombia set a new record for cocaine production with coca leaf cultivation spreading over 230,000 hectares (888 sq miles). Last year, authorities in Belgium seized a record amount of cocaine at the port of Antwerp, which has become Europe’s main entry point for the drug from South America.