The United States Coast Guard interdicted its first drug smuggling, self-propelled, semi-submersible (try saying that 5 times fast) or SPSS in the Caribbean.
Coast Guard Cutter, Seneca, was credited with the seizure of 15,000 pounds of cocaine worth approximately $180 million.
Though this is the first SPSS to be discovered in the Caribbean this is not something new for the Coast Guard. They have been intercepting several other smuggling subs in the Western Pacific since they began being utilized in 2006.
When these particular smugglers realized they had been located by the Coast Guard they sabotaged and sunk their vessel along with its contents.
“Prior to the passage of the Drug Vessel Trafficking Interdiction Act of 2008 this would have been an effective means of avoiding prosecution,” said Lou Orsini, Senior Maritime Law Enforcement Advisor. “Now smugglers using stealth vessels can be prosecuted without necessarily recovering the drugs.”
After the suspects were apprehended Coast Guard Cutter, Oak, used its side scanning sonar to locate the submerged vessel. A team of divers were then able to seize the cocaine. This would be the first time in the history of the Coast Guard that they would utilize a dive team for drug recovery.
This interdiction shows these criminal organizations respond quickly to new tactics, techniques and procedures employed by law enforcement,” said Orsini. “We must be equally adaptive. Our ability to rapidly recognize trends and identify solutions to fight our adversaries is paramount to our success.”