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.