Southern commandDrug traffickers turn to self-propelled semi-submersibles

Published 9 June 2009

Trying to stay ahead of U.S. drug interdiction efforts, Colombian drug traffickers are looking to build remote-controlled SPSSs to smuggle drugs risk-free from Colombia into the United States

Last August we reported on Latin American drug traffickers using minisubs to smuggle drugs into the United States (18 August 2008 HS Daily Wire). The Washington Post’s William Booth and Juan Forero the other day reported that drug traffickers continue to innovate, and are now using self-propelled semi-submersibles (SPSSs). Narcotraffickers have spread the word that they are looking to build remote-controlled SPSSs to smuggle drugs risk-free from Colombia into the United States.

Last August, two men were arrested by Colombian authorities for allegedly offering their services to Mexican drug smugglers.

Last August, Colombian authorities arrested Gustavo Adolfo de Jesús García, alias “The Engineer,” the alleged mastermind of a sub-building syndicate, and Lope Antonio López, known as “El Gringo,” accused of brokering deals with Mexican cartels eager to move tons of cocaine to Mexico via submersibles.

García and López, authorities said, were focused on the manufacturing side of the business, building bigger, stealthier, sleeker vessels. Colombian police say the men were also offering something new — drone subs operated by remote control.

The United States has responded to the sudden explosion in the use of SPSSs to smuggle drugs by outlawing the use of unregistered SPSSs that do not fly a national flag. Previously, SPSS crews detected by U.S. authorities would sink their vessel, thus destroying the evidence of any drug smuggling and turning themselves into search and rescues. Now, SPSS crews that sink their vessels face fifteen years in prison or a fine of $1 million or both upon capture. 

Security Management notes that the increased interest in remote-controlled SPSSs is one more indication that the constant technological arms race between the United States and narcotraffickers in the drug war will not end anytime soon.