Watch CBS News

Colombian navy seizes 20th "narco sub" of year, this one loaded with 3.3 tons of cocaine

Combating narco-subs and trafficking
Combating narco-subs and narco-terrorism in the U.S. and abroad 04:35

The Colombian navy seized a semi-submersible loaded with 3.3 tons of cocaine on Tuesday, marking the 20th such interception of a so-called "narco sub" this year, officials said in a news release

The semi-submersible was intercepted while sailing in South Pacific waters, the Colombian Navy said. The cocaine found inside the vessel "was apparently intended to be sent to the coasts of Central America." There was enough cocaine found on board for about 8,000 doses, with an estimated value of more than $111 million, officials said. 

Three men were also arrested. The suspects have not been identified, but are aged 57, 50, and 33. All three were "transporting the material aboard the illegal device," the navy said. The men "were captured for the crime of trafficking, manufacturing or carrying narcotics," the navy said, and have been "placed at the disposal of" the country's attorney general. 

Members of the Colombian Navy stand in front of seized drugs.  Ministerio de Defensa Nacional

The vessel leaked water and "excessive toxic smoke" as the navy intercepted it on Tuesday, officials said. This led the navy to remove hundreds of packages from the vessel. The packages contained thousands of smaller packages, the contents of which were subjected to a preliminary identification test and found to be cocaine, according to the navy. 

It's the third seizure of a vessel loaded with illicit drugs in less than a week, the navy said. On Monday, the navy seized two fishing boats carrying a combined 1.3 tons of cocaine. Just two days earlier, on Saturday, the navy seized about 1,737 pounds of cocaine from multiple vessels in the Colombian Caribbean. 

Semi-submersibles — known as "narco subs" — like the one captured on Tuesday are popular because they can be used to elude detection by the coast guard and other authorities. They never go fully underwater, according to previous reporting by CBS News, and have been intercepted in Colombian waters or while heading to the United States or Europe.  

The Colombian Navy has intercepted 20 such semi-submersibles in 2023, the navy said, leading to the seizure of 30 tons of cocaine and more than five tons of marijuana. 

Largest-ever "narco sub" intercepted off Colombia 00:45
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.