News Release
July 3, 2010
Contact: DEA Public Affairs
Number: 202-307-7977

DEA Intel Aids In Seizure of Fully-Operational Narco Submarine In Ecuador

JUL 3 -- (Washington)– On July 2, Ecuador Anti-Narcotics Police Forces and Ecuador Military authorities with the assistance of DEA seized a fully-operational submarine built for the primary purpose of transporting multi-ton quantities of cocaine.

Photo of Narco Submarine.
Photo of Narco Submarine.

The investigation of the captured submarine and the individuals responsible for its construction is ongoing. One individual has been taken into custody by Ecuadorian authorities at the site of the seizure.

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.

DEA Andean Regional Director Jay Bergman stated: “Traffickers historically employed slow moving fishing boats, sail boats, pleasure craft and subsequently go-fasts. Eventually, when speed no longer won the day, traffickers to avoid detection, turned to parasitic devices on the bottom of ship hulls, towed array devices and ultimately low profile vessels and semi-submersible boats. The advent of the narco-submarine presents new detection challenges for maritime interdiction forces.  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.”

The submarine 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.