Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat TY Gus from Vice by Tim Marcin
This load was so big they needed a crane to lift it onto a ship
The Coast Guard intercepted a makeshift narco-submarine hauling a hell of a lot of cocaine in the Pacific Ocean.
The Coast Guard said Thursday that its cutter ship “Harriet Lane” seized some 5,000 pounds of the drug off the semi-submersible vessel manned by four suspected smugglers on October 23.
A boarding team was able to take control of the narco-sub before the people onboard could use a system designed to sink the craft, the Coast Guard said.
“It was an all-hands-on-deck effort to properly position the cutter and to safely make the seizure,” said Cmdr. Dorothy Hernaez, commanding officer of the Harriet Lane, in a statement.
The coke found on board was worth about $69 million. The seizure was made in the eastern Pacific in international waters after an air patrol spotted the suspected smuggling ship.
Video of the incident released Friday shows members of the Coast Guard ducking into the vessel, and chucking out bale after bale of what’s apparently cocaine.
The Coast Guard pulled so much coke off the ship that they needed a crane to haul loads of bales onto a separate ship.
It’s not all that uncommon for the Coast Guard to intercept narco-subs. In September they seized some $165 million worth of cocaine off a narco-sub heading toward the U.S. in the Pacific Ocean.
READ: So here’s a Coast Guard dude just surfing a 40-foot narco-sub packed with cocaine
Before that, in June, the Coast Guard stopped a narco-sub carrying a whopping 17,000 pounds of coke worth roughly $232 million.
Still, most narco-subs go undetected. Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Brickey told CNN in July that they only catch an estimated 11% of the smuggling vessels that pass through the eastern Pacific. As the video released Thursday demonstrates, the smugglers do a decent job of camouflaging their ships.
“They blend in,” Brickey told CNN. “Most of the vessel is underwater, so it’s hard to pick out. They’re painted blue. They match the water.”