Investigators seize suspected drug sub in Ecuador

July 3, 2010 3:28:03 PM PDT
A fully operation submarine built to transport multi-ton quantities of cocaine has been seized in a joint operation between Ecuadorian officials and the Drug Enforcement Agency. The sub was captured on Friday, but the investigation is ongoing. One person was taken into custody by Ecuadorian authorities.

The twin-screw, diesel electric-powered submarine is about 30 meters long and about nine feet high from the deck plates to the ceiling. The sophisticated vessel also has a conning tower, periscope and air conditioning system.

"The advent of the narco-submarine presents new detection challenges for maritime interdiction forces," DEA Andean Regional Director Jay Bergman stated in a statement. "The submarine's nautical range, payload capacity and quantum leap in stealth have raised the stakes for the counter-drug forces and the national security community alike."

Investigators believe the sub was constructed in a remote jungle environment in an effort to elude law enforcement or military interdiction, and is currently located near a tributary close to the Ecuador/Colombia border.

As a result of DEA intelligence, Ecuadorian authorities were able to seize the vessel before it was able to make its maiden voyage.

This is the first seizure of a clandestinely constructed fully operational submarine built to facilitate trans-oceanic drug trafficking.