Colombian police have seized a submarine used by drug cartels to ship cocaine in international waters, authorities said Monday.
It's a sophisticated vessel equipped with modern
navigation systems, and was caught in a village in the remote western province
of Choco on the Pacific coast, south of Panama, according to Carlos Enrique
Rodriguez, deputy director of the anti-narcotics police.
It was the second such submarine seized over last
weekend, he told a news conference. On Saturday, authorities found a bigger
submarine which could carry up to 10 tons of cocaine in the southern province
of Valle del Cauca.
The submarine nabbed on Sunday was built of fiberglass
and steel, and was equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite
mechanism as well as cameras which allowed for multiple vision.
The hi-tech features could help the submarine to escape
the monitoring of maritime police and navy forces. It can travel 5 meters below
water for up to 10 days with a five-man crew.
Preliminary investigations have found that the vessel
belongs to members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla
group, Rodriguez said.
"This vessel, which is 14 meters long and 3 meters
wide, was built at the order of Jorge Neftali Umenza, alias 'Mincho,' the
leader of the 30th front of FARC which has long had a presence in the
department of Choco," he said.
The construction of the submarine, which has a capacity
of carrying up to 5 tons of cocaine, is estimated to have cost two million U.S.
dollars and to have been used for shipping drugs from Colombia to Central
America, a transit point to access the U.S. market.