Authorities in the U.S. have recovered about 15,000 pounds of cocaine from a sunken submarine vessel cunningly used by smugglers new Honduras. The find is estimated to be worth approximately $180 million.
The submarine-like vessel was captured by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca on July 13. The smugglers onboard were detained and a large portion of the drugs were recovered before the vessel sank to the bottom of the ocean.
A mass operation involving several Coast Guard cutters, the Honduran Navy and FBI dive teams then searched for the vessel and drugs, and they were finally discovered on July 26, Reuters has reported.
The massive haul has taken three day to recover to the surface.
Lieutenant Commander Peter Niles, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Oak told Reuters: “This is a once-in-a-career thing that happens.”
The coast off of Honduras is a hot-bed for drug trafficking by Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, who use the submarine-like vessels to transport tons of drugs thousands of miles under the radar of law enforcement agencies. The vessels are designed to sink rapidly if found by authorities, so that that the illegal cargo can drift to the ocean floor; making it near-impossible in many cases for law enforcement agents to recover.
Experts have expressed amazement at the technical expertise used in the submarines’ design and construction. The boats are built specifically for the drug trade.
Commander Charles Fosse, commanding officer of the Seneca has commented on the successful interception of cocaine: “Our mission out here in the Caribbean is to keep drugs from crossing our borders and making our communities (back) home safer. It's very satisfying for the crew.”
Experts have no idea regarding the number of submarines currently shipping tons of cocaine from Colombia, however, it is known that even one delivery of eight tons puts hundreds of millions of dollars into the hands of cartel leaders.