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Discover life inside narco-submarines, used in drug trafficking, and how they challenge authorities at sea

Written by Rafaela Fabris
Published 04/06/2024 às 16:19
Discover life inside narco-submarines, used in drug trafficking, and how they challenge authorities at sea
Did you know that there are submarines used by drug traffickers? These so-called “narco-submarines” have reached a level of sophistication that makes them almost undetectable. Let's explore how they work and what life is like inside these submarines in the middle of the ocean. Image: Construction Global/Disclosure

Did you know that there are submarines used by drug traffickers? These so-called “narco-submarines” have reached a level of sophistication that makes them almost undetectable. Let's explore how they work and what life is like inside these submarines in the middle of the ocean.

Drug trafficking has evolved over the years. From planes used by cartels to underground tunnels between Mexico and the United States, drug traffickers always find ways to evade authorities. In the ocean, the story is even more intriguing with the emergence of narco-submarines, vessels designed to transport drugs clandestinely.

Narco-submarines began to appear in the late 80s. Initially, they were simple rafts that were transformed into sophisticated semi-submersibles. These first models could not completely submerge, but over time, they evolved into more advanced vessels, approaching conventional submarines.

Detecting these submarines is extremely difficult due to their ability to partially submerge and the vast expanse of the ocean.

In 2006, the United States Navy captured the first narco-submarine near Costa Rica, with four crew members and three tons of cocaine. Since then, authorities have intercepted an increasing number of these vessels.

Most narco-submarines are built in clandestine shipyards in Colombia. These shipyards are hidden in jungle areas, offering a safe and discreet location for construction. Submarines are made of fiberglass, which makes them almost invisible out of the water. They are designed to transport large quantities of drugs, with some models capable of carrying up to 10 tons of cocaine.

Life inside a narco-submarine is extremely complex

Crews, generally made up of two to four members, face journeys of 8 to 10 days in adverse conditions. Space is limited, with canned food and bottled water as the main supplies. The heat is unbearable and the constant noise of the diesel engines makes the journey even more challenging.

Despite the risks, the profits are very high. A narco-submarine carrying 5 tons of cocaine can generate up to 100 million dollars in the United States. The cost of building a narco-submarine is relatively low compared to the profits made. Even with the risk of arrest, many take the risk because of the large financial rewards.

Authorities continue to intensify their efforts to combat the use of narco-submarines

In 2023, one of the largest narco-submarines ever captured was intercepted in the Pacific Ocean, carrying around 3 tons of cocaine. This submarine was 30 meters long, showing the increasing sophistication of these vessels.

Narco-submarines represent a significant challenge to the authorities. With continued advances in technology, these submarines are becoming increasingly difficult to detect. The fight between drug traffickers and authorities continues, with each side seeking new ways to outdo the other.

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Rafaela Fabris

Talks about innovation, renewable energy, oil and gas. Updates daily on opportunities in the Brazilian job market.

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