BUSTED! Coast Guard nabs mini-submarine containing 8 TONS of cocaine

A cutter deployed from U.S. Coast Guard Station Alameda in California nabbed a sneaky semi-submersible vessel containing 16,000 pounds of cocaine.

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A Coast Guard Cutter Stratton boarding team investigates a self-propelled semi-submersible interdicted in international waters off the coast of Central America, July 19, 2015. The Stratton’s crew recovered more than 6 tons of cocaine from the 40-foot vessel. (Coast Guard photo courtesy of Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)

The bust, made last month in international waters off the Central American coastline, is the largest of its kind in Coast Guard history, local CBS News affiliate KPIX reported Wednesday.

The station reported:

On July 18, the crew apprehended four suspected smugglers and captured 275 bales of cocaine worth more than $181 million wholesale from the self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) vessel, a low-riding vessel often used
to smuggle massive quantities of narcotics across the ocean nearly undetected.

But not this time. The U.S. Navy maritime patrol aircraft found the 40-foot “narco-submarine” more than 200 miles south of Mexico.

“Our success intercepting this drug-laden, self-propelled semi-submersible is a testament to the collaboration of our partner agencies, and demonstrates the importance of our increased presence in the Western Hemisphere,” said Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray, commander, Pacific Area.

“Every interception of these semi-submersibles disrupts transnational organized crime networks and helps increase security and stability in the Western Hemisphere.”

They attempted to tow the vessel back to Alameda, and left two tons of the cocaine in to serve as ballast. Unfortunately it sunk in transit, along with the two tons of contraband.

This bust comes fast on the heels of a similar — though not as large — capture in the Caribbean.

In June, a Coast Guard cutter offloaded 723 pounds of cocaine and 3,100 pounds of marijuana in Miami Beach.

This haul came from two individual seizures from go-fast boats, popular for Caribbean drug runners.

“These individual seizures not only keep drugs off the streets and reduce the destabilizing effects they have on society, but they get our investigatory agencies one step closer to disabling the transnational criminal organizations that threaten the prosperity and security of free nations,” Cmdr. Tim Cronin, 7th District deputy chief of enforcement, said in a statement released by the Coast Guard.

Here’s a video of that bust, via CBS News Miami. Additional photos from the submersible bust follow.

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The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton crew is shown with cocaine bales seized from a self-propelled semi-submersible interdicted in international waters off the coast of Central America, July 19, 2015. The Coast Guard recovered more than 6 tons of cocaine from the 40-foot vessel. (Coast Guard photo courtesy of Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)

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