Drug smuggling is a dangerous and difficult profession to pick up, especially with groups like the US Coast Guard hunting you down. Sometimes smugglers come up with some pretty ingenious ways to get their product into a country, but even the smartest ideas eventually get caught. One such idea was to use a submarine to slip past the authorities, but the Coast Guard was up to the task and caught the drug-smuggling submarine red-handed.
The submarine, which was carrying over 17,000 pounds of cocaine, was captured on June 18, 2019 in the Eastern Pacific. The bust was valued at $232 million. Just between the months of May and July, the Coast Guard captured over 39,000 pounds of cocaine from 14 busts.
The submarine is a rare method of smuggling, though it’s not unique to this instance. “They blend in,” explained Lt. Commander Stephen Brickey. “Most of the vessel is underwater, so it’s hard to pick out. They’re painted blue. They match the water.” Finding these submarines is difficult; the Coast Guard patrols an area of water that is equivalent in size to the entire United States. They only stop around 11 percent of these vessels. Making it even more difficult, the submarines are designed to be sunk within minutes, destroying the evidence. The smugglers know that the Coast Guard won’t let them drown, so they don’t hesitate to scuttle the ship.
The video of the bust showed a new type of ship being used, a step up for the Coast Guard which has been forced to use a fleet that is 70 percent 50 years old or older and requires a lot of maintenance. Despite these difficulties, the Coast Guard has seen some success, as depicted in the video. “They’re like the White Whale,” explains Brickey, “They’re pretty rare. For us to get one, it’s a significant event.” And it’s an event that deserves some well-earned recognition.