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Another Drug Sub is Caught at Sea

by John Reed on April 20, 2011

Here’s some great mid-week image porn. It’s U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 106 capturing a drug sub in the waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean on April 15. The boat was carrying six tons of cocaine (damn, that’s a lot of money) along with its crew of four.

It looks like this narco boat is only a semi-submersible, relatively old school compared with the new generation of genuine submarines the cartels are now fielding.

While this is a great catch for the USCG, I’ve got to ask; how many of these incredibly hard to find boats are making it to their destinations undetected for every one that is caught?

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

STemplar April 20, 2011 at 11:41 am

Not enough for them to abandon the tactic it would seem. If we are making more and more captures it stands to reason they are probably using them quite a bit. Not that they don't have plenty of money to burn but there's quite a bit of lead time in building one I would think. In their own way I'm sure the cartels do their own cost effectiveness analysis.


Jeff April 20, 2011 at 12:08 pm

If they're still using the tactic, it stands to reason for whatever number of these that have been captured or discovered enough of them sneak by and off load enough to pay for the loss.


Tony C April 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I wonder when the drug cartels will buy some old Russian submarines from Hugo Chavez? They will be able to go deeper, farther, faster than the existing models they are building.


Dfens April 20, 2011 at 12:45 pm

It is a sad day when drug lords build submarines to stealthily transport their goods from one place to another while our Navy continues to build huge, quasi-stealthy ships that can be seen for miles and sunk quite easily while costing US taxpayers tens of billions to develop and build. If anyone needs any proof of the superiority of capitalism to socialism, the drug sub alone should be enough to settle the issue even if you ignore the disintegration of the Soviet Union.


EJ257 April 20, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Maybe they were on their way to join the NATO exercises and got lost.


Jacob April 20, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Meh. Drug war isn't going to end until either drugs are legalized, or people stop using drugs….neither of which is going to happen soon.


Rick April 29, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Your assessment is incorrect. The drug war will not end if all drugs are legalized. Cigarettes, CD's, DVD's, handbags, etc. are forged everyday. The drug cartels will still be able to manufacture and transport drugs cheaper than the Federal Government will be able to. Please name 10 cases where the government took over an enterprise and costs dropped; let's start with healthcare. Nope, that one sure didn't work; costs are skyrocketing.


SSgt. Massengale April 20, 2011 at 2:29 pm

You forgot to mention who the end user is: fellow americans. Are we going to use our highly trained and heavily armed military against ourselves? This is a political and social problem, not a military one. If we truly believe in a free republic, get the government out of the baby sitter role. It's time to shrink the nanny state and allow the free market to tax and regulate all drugs, and let the end user accept responsibility for themselves. I have kids, and I sure don't want them to take drugs, but they can get them easily on any street corner. And since we allow the free trade of alcohol and cigarettes, both which kill hundreds of thousands a year, why don't we end this the right way, and focus on those subs that carry terrorists, not kilos of cocaine.


Guest April 20, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Follow the money and the answer will become clear real quick…


blight April 20, 2011 at 2:50 pm

The answer is yes, the neo-Puritan government will tell you what you can and cannot put into your body, regardless of safety issues. Why is cocaine more evil than binge drinking alcohol…?


William C. April 20, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Some people are idiots. They would still end up as toothless meth-addicts and heroin junkies. I for one would rather not live in a country where I have to worry about being shived by a guy who is legally a crack-head.

And these addicts will expect the government to pull their weight for them… they will blame the government for their failures… Screw that.


blight April 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm

We already live in a country where the failures who beat other people up seem to go in and out of jail with minimal consequence, as long as nobody is seriously hurt or killed. They can be drunks, or they can be totally sober.

Strong argument for concealed carry?


sealsmp532 April 20, 2011 at 10:21 pm

because they are one in the same hello! those who are the terrorists support the cartels wake man ! where have u been!


STemplar April 21, 2011 at 3:35 am

I don't want people to have the same level of access to coke and meth they have to Budweiser. People love to say things like "they can get them easily on any street corner" which is pure non sense. You can get alcohol that easily, not coke and meth. The issue with drugs and the damage they cause has nothing to do with their illegality, it has to do with their ingestion. People who heavily abuse them aren't going to take responsibility for their actions, that's oxymoronic in its stupidity. If substance abusers could take responsibility for their actions they wouldn't be substance abusers.

Increase the volume and availability of drugs to people and they will make their problem yours. Half of traffic fatalities in this nation are alcohol related, hundreds of thousands of life altering injuries are inflicted on more, and millions of temporary debilitating injuries, all on sober people that didn't ask to run into the drunk. Increase the number of mind altering substances and their volume and ease of access to Busweiser and be ready for a social catastrophe.


blight April 21, 2011 at 7:23 am

I feel there is no real deterrence for alcohol abuse, asides from shooting people for being drunk drivers on the street and hanging them from lamp-posts. Wonder if people are ready for that. We only discipline the problem after you kill someone, and by then it's pretty much too late…?


mike j April 21, 2011 at 9:41 am

I disagree with this. My father was an alcoholic who died from his addiction. He was a talented engineer- a lot of drug/ alcohol addicts are bright and capable people- but he could never get some emotional aspect of his life under control. There was probably a genetic predisposition also. His death left a crater in the lives of everyone close to him. He had his best years still ahead of him. It was just a damned tragedy.

You will never be able to whip the problem of addiction out of society by force. Please, get that clear in your mind. Addicts have a huge blind spot when it comes to their own behavior. It's part of the reason FOR their illness, and a tremendous obstacle to overcoming it as well. They just wouldn't equate the drunk getting shot in the street with themselves.


Abaft April 22, 2011 at 7:45 am

The description of your father’s circustances closely resmbles that of my brother. A very intelligent engineer that destroyed his life drinking. The utter frustration of not being able to help him haunts me. I finally got him into rehab at a hospital. They gave him a cat scan and the dye killed his kidneys and we lost him in a month. He too could not see his problem until he was on the edge of the chasm. The pain and hardship touched our entire family and friends. It is insane to create more scenarios like this by legalizing drugs. Easing the access to drugs could only cause a proliferation of this type of behaviour. How could it make society better? For me, it is a “no brainer”.

STemplar April 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Your comment shows a complete lack of knowledge of the issue. Increased enforcement and stricter DUI laws here in the state of AZ over the last 3 years has seen the number of alcohol related deaths plummet. Offenders are required on the first offense to obtain ignition interlock devices. 2 times offenders have to do jail time, no way for a bleeding heart judge to suspend it, all have their cars towed and impounded 30 days upon arrest. So these baseless comments like being able to buy drugs on every corner or "there is no real deterrence for alcohol abuse" only telegraph peoples lack of facts or knowledge.


Leigh April 21, 2011 at 11:17 pm

"So these baseless comments like being able to buy drugs on every corner or "there is no real deterrence for alcohol abuse" only telegraph peoples lack of facts or knowledge."

Utter rubbish. Drink driving is quite simply one aspect of alcohol abuse. I can quite easily abuse alcohol without going anywhere near my car keys.

It's the drink driving which is the crime in this instance, not downing a 700ml bottle of Markers Mark every night. SO Blight is correct, there is no deterrence for alcoholism.

Mastro April 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Agreed- people don't realize that the problem can get a LOT worse.

look at the UK- where they have about 2X's the drinking problem we have. You have to get off the streets at night or risk being attacked by some teen- and this is in "nice" neighborhoods.

Worst is Russia- so many drunks there you really can't drive on the roads- or expect any manufactured good to be reliable- the guy who made it was probably soused.

We fired two guys at my plant for showing up drunk/high- in ten years. If you legalize everything- that could end up being every week.


6591 USMC April 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm

The Coast Guard is chartered, staffed and missioned to do exactly this. Any foreign or un-licensed craft inside US territorial, littoral or interior waters is fair game.

If this had become a formal mission of the Navy, Army or Marines, then you might have a point.


Ich_jap68 April 28, 2011 at 6:58 am

Are you serious buddy??? Well, the same people the have these Subs made are the terrorists! I love when people who have no idea about a subject dime in like they know what they are talking about. And the war on drugs IS and will always be the largest war. Drugs = money, money = weapons…. What do you think the guys making the money do with it???? They don’t buy more drugs since they grow it!

I guarantee you that our next terrorist attack will be from the water, under it, and probably from one of these spss or spfs (self propelled semi submersible or self propelled fully submersibles are what they are called). If not from the drug cartels themselves, someone they sold them to! So again, the war on drugs will never stop because it effects everything…..money…..weapons…..power


blight April 20, 2011 at 2:49 pm

What I want to know is where the heck you're supposed to unload this thing? Oceanside? Mission Bay?


Alex Lynch April 20, 2011 at 3:37 pm

how much is that cocaine worth?


spriddler April 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Depends on a lot of things: location, wholesale or retail, etc… But at $50 per gram retail you are talking about $9,600,000. That might sound like a lot, but its a tiny drop in a very large bucket.


Chimp April 21, 2011 at 3:29 am

6 metric tonnes is 6 million grammes. At $50 per gramme that works out to be $300 million. That's a lot.


spriddler April 21, 2011 at 9:30 am

Sure nuff.. where was my brain?


RBowman March 10, 2014 at 10:32 am

700-800M street value


Guest April 20, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Inflation proof spriddler? So I guess pot still costs $40 an ounce, right?


spriddler April 20, 2011 at 4:52 pm

In Miami circa 2000 1/8 of an ounce of quality cocaine ran between $100 and $120 or about $40/gram. I asked a friend down there who would know and he says today you are either paying $40 or $50 per gram.

As far as pot is concerned a primo 1/8 of an ounce cost me $50 in 1998 and that is still what it costs today; although a lot of people are now charging $60. I think you could still get some dirt weed for around that though.


blight April 20, 2011 at 9:16 pm

It just means the best dealers were able to cut costs in line with inflation.


blight April 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Anybody see that person in red life jacket off the port bow?


Oblat April 20, 2011 at 4:04 pm

The numbers are a couple hundred per year apparently. Which just shows you how pathetic catching one or two is.

The war on drugs is moronic.


@Earlydawn April 20, 2011 at 6:54 pm

A strong argument for keeping the Coast Guard up to date and well-equipped in anti-submarine warfare.


@Earlydawn April 20, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Before the trolls jump me: Anti-Submarine Warfare is no longer a Coast Guard role. Perhaps I should have phrased it as "a strong argument for bringing ASW back to the Coast guard mission."


jamesb April 21, 2011 at 12:42 am

Excellent question!


jamesb April 21, 2011 at 12:45 am

And guys who knows who picked the narco sub in the first place?

A Civilian fishing boat?
A Navy airbore a/c
A Global Hawk?
A tip?


BillDanner April 28, 2011 at 9:37 am

How about an HU-25C NIGHT STALKER designed for just that purpose.



Huckleberry Finn April 21, 2011 at 2:54 am

What next: Narc Space Shuttle, Narc Zeppelin, Narc UAV:s…


tiger August 12, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Actually Ultralights & drug tunnels. These guys have watched "The Great Escape" And decided tunnels are the prime way to go. Pay local labor under the table to dig a cross border tunnel to a house or warehouse. Then kill the diggers( dead men tell no tales). A Tunnel can tranport truck loads undetected. The other new toy is the ultra light. Cheap to build, easy to fly low under the radar; they can carry a stash to a pick up point out in the boonies.


Robet April 21, 2011 at 9:32 am

I wish I was them because the are so gangsta and it takes a lot of effort to do that. It will be better if they didnt get caught. i would take also marijuana, herion, and other drugs that get you high or crazy. I would choose my own team to sell it will be the Lil Mex Homies to do that. We will be millionaires and sell more than 6 tons will go for 1000 tons or more to get rich as hell or die trying.


gunny April 21, 2011 at 11:21 am

Pelican Bay here you come, or a nice plot 6x6x6.


A1c Griffin April 21, 2011 at 10:46 am

holy CRAP!? how the heck did they manage to fit 6 tons of coke in that little thing!? people that do drugs are stupid and dont look at the big picture! They only look at the current,more smaller one. Drugs are so dumb,you get high and it goes away and you just do it again,all ur doing is killing yourself just for a feeling that only lasts for a couple hours,like really? whats so damn great about it? It's so stupid,when they(druggies and drug dealers) resort to stupid crap its ridiculous,blow the damn things up when they pop up on sonar and im sure they can use thermal imaging too to take care of this ever growing problem!


Zack April 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Do you really want to give up the drug war just because every ounce can't be stopped? I, for one, don't want to be surrounded (to any greater extent) by people under the influence of drugs which remove their ability to reason. A war of attrition worked for George Washington against a seemingly insurmountable enemy. It took years to win that war, too.


mike j April 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Delusional optimism is not a basis for good strategy. How is the Revolutionary War analogous to the Drug War?


blight April 22, 2011 at 8:04 am

The British didn't have a profit incentive to send troops to America. If anything, the near-bankruptcy of Seven Years War made it more profitable to wash their hands of the Americans, especially after the losses on land and sea and costs of importing Hessians…and the French, Spanish and Dutch joining in.


mike j April 22, 2011 at 8:43 am

Yeah, pretty much. It was a rhetorical question.


Lance April 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Time to give the USCG P-3s to sink the Narco mini subs.


anonymous April 21, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Good concept. Though equipping their new HC-144As with light weapons might be more efficient. I think the aircraft they are based off of have ASW capabilities though I'm not sure.


RBowman March 10, 2014 at 10:36 am

I am sure a Spooky or a Ghost Rider would be available for some live fire training…


Valenburg April 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I think the HITRONs with the 50 cal Sniper rifles would put plenty a big enough hole in one of those fiberglass contraptions…


jamesb April 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm

try this…for each one caught about 20 get thru?


jamesb April 23, 2011 at 5:14 pm

not a bad business model?


DaveL April 23, 2011 at 5:27 pm

The war on drugs will never be won because it is in no one's best interest. Certainly not the drug dealers. The cops get more grants, and keep some of the money and equipment. The DEA, FBI", and ICE create huge government organizations. The bloated court system is needed to prosecute offenders. The two million prisoners are mostly drug offenders. The lengthy sententences create a new criminal class to be dealt with by more bureauracy, and the new privitized prisons are looking for business. It all about Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.


mathew Quigley April 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I have a better Idea….use torpedo's…sink the b*sterds!! Narcos are only terrorists, dressed up as criminals!!


CoastieDoc April 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

Norway or Sweden recently legalized drugs and according to the documentary I watched, officials have seen a drastic decline in crime. Although, the user can get his drug legally…but it is country mandated that they attend and complete a drug rehab or be placed in jail. I think that it would be a viable solution to look into. Anything is better than what we have now.


Eric July 20, 2011 at 7:33 am

Economically for the cartels, it doesn't matter if shipments are captured. The demand won't change; therefore price will rise. The net profit won't be effected. In fact, over the course of the, "War On Drugs", profitability has surly increased to today's highly inflated price!!


michael fane April 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm

May be we should set up manufacture of our wing in ground effect Hoverflight 30 Hovercraft in USA. The cruise at 75 knots, for 2,000 Nautical miles, land on smooth or heavy seas. With US electronic equipment or some from Australia, it should help keeping drug transportation systems like this out of USA. http://www.australianhovercraft.com


anthony August 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Maybe they get smarter and start parachuting thousands of packages in big cities?But this drug war must stop it costs more lives then the afgan war..


Tiger August 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm

How would you do that? Drug guys don’t fly that far. As for the drug war? Last thing I need is more druggies or dealers.


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mike j April 21, 2011 at 10:03 am

Except the junkies would lie their asses off, rather than be stuck in that program. They wouldn't be insurable, and they would have to acknowledge their problem. They don't actually want to be junkies or drunks, the vast majority anyway, and they don't want to ADMIT they are either.


STemplar April 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm

"eradicate drug related crime"

Another blue ribbon comment of no knowledge. Let me clue you in, junkies don't commit crime because drugs are illegal, they commit crime because they are addicted to drugs. The illegality of the drug has nothing to do with them stealing to support their habits. Drugs are not expensive, someone with a reasonable job can budget that expense easily. Junkies aren't capable of holding down regular jobs, they're whacked out their heads on dope.

The only thing legalization does is increase the volume and ease of access to these items. It will do zero to lower crime. Addicts are still going to be undependable because they are addicts. They will lose their jobs and have no way to support their habit. That thought process is so flawed, hasn't anyone here heard of the alcoholic who lost their job because they were a drunk? Got divorced because they were a drunk? Were a 'mean drunk' and beat their kids?

News flash to you pro legalization folks, alcohol is legal and causes vastly more social damage to this nation than all illegal drugs combined. Why? Because it is legal and it actually is available on every street corner in this nation. Wake up.


mike j April 21, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Possession of drugs is a crime, whether or not the offender committed another crime. There are thousands of people in jail and on parole for simple possession.

If you read my other comments, you'll understand that I want to limit the damage done by all drug abuse in this country. I sure hope you don't think that alcohol prohibition could solve our problems. We can not have blanket legalization of narcotics, that's very true, but neither can we allow the black market to flourish. We're 40 years into this war, and we haven't made any headway.

So let's pretend we're making a difference and put some ideas on the table.


William Ewing April 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Prohibition didn't work. Banning booze led to speakeasies, bootleggers, bathtub gin, and gangland warfare. Repealing prohibition eliminated those problems. Now we have a "war on drugs", crack houses, drug smugglers, drugs laced with bleach, and gang warfare. Hmmmmm.
Legalize now, and change the laws to hold people accountable for allowing their behavior to harm others. For example, drinking ages glamorize alcohol as a "cool, adult" thing. Scrapping drinking ages, ignoring social drinking, and slamming obnoxious drunks would do far more to save lives than any unenforceable ban ever can. William


blight April 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

Is your solution prohibition or replacing all booze with grog?

Deterrence by taking away a DL or impounding a car doesn't work; as you put it; on junkies who don't have cars. And putting a junkie in jail is just three-square a day until released to get back into the habit.

Public drunken-ness is a crime though…but it sounds more like that our system of justice is fixated around punishing behavior rather than attempting to correct it or treat addiction.

Maybe one of these days they will invent a inside-the-skin methadone patch for drug addicts…the technology has been proven safe by the IUD guys. Just a thought.


STemplar April 22, 2011 at 4:27 am

Baloney, there are not thousands of people in jail for 'simple' possession. Simple possession in the metro area l live in results in zero time in jail period. The people in prison were generally in 'simple possession' of sums of narcotics beyond personal use in conjunction with other crimes, illegals weapons possession, intent to sell, smuggling, etc. This fallacy that people go to prison for simple possession is just that, fairy tales.


STemplar April 22, 2011 at 4:31 am

That's the point, the substance abuse isn't the problem in and of itself, it's the actions taken by those that abuse. I can't make people not abuse, but l can limit access and l can punish for those actions. Those limit the damage of the abuse.


mike j April 22, 2011 at 9:00 am

We can and should do more to curb drug abuse. Stands to reason that the more addicts you have, the more potential criminals exist, right? This problem at its heart is in large part a mental health issue, and teenage risk-taking. Success over the last two decades combating tobacco use shows we can make progress.


Lcdr J C Quinn April 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Looks like we should reactivate some of the anti sub warfare (ASW) tactics again and apply them to the anti drug efforts.


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