Colombian drug traffickers are making increasing use of fiberglass mini-subs to bring narcotics into the United States, reports the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper quotes Captain Jose Luis Vergara, a spokesman for the Mexican navy, as saying a recently captured mini-sub was “very well-constructed.” More than a dozen such vessels have been captured by Colombian forces and the U.S. Coast Guard over the past two and a half years.
Mexico, unlike many other Latin American nations, does not have a submarine force, but Guillermo Garduño, a national security specialist at the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UNAM) in Mexico City, says “if there is a naval front by the traffickers, it means the need [for Mexico] to restructure or modify its naval forces.” Terrorists could also use such vessels against oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Mexican navy said in a statement that its forces moved in on the recently captured vessel after receiving intelligence from “national and international agencies”.
The home-made vessels are semi-submersible. That means they can be almost fully submerged, but lack the diving and resurfacing abilities of true submarines and, although they can evade radar by staying just below the surface, they are easy to spot from the air.