First ‘narco submarine’ in European waters seized carrying tonnes of cocaine bound for UK
Three tonnes of cocaine worth hundreds of millions of pounds, much of which would have ended up on British streets, has been recovered from a ‘narco submarine’ intercepted off the coast of Spain.
It is the first time a semi-submersible submarine of this type, widely used by South American drugs cartels to smuggle cocaine into the US, has been detected in European waters.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) worked with Spanish police and customs to intercept the 20m-long submarine on Saturday (November 23) before it could offload the drugs to another vessel.
The vessel, which was escorted into the port of Aldán and searched by police, was carrying 152 bales containing three tonnes of cocaine.
Two Ecuadorian nationals were arrested and a search for the third crew member is ongoing.
Tom Dowdall, Deputy Director International at the NCA, said: “It is highly likely a lot of this cocaine would have ended up on the streets of the UK, fuelling serious violence and impacting on the most vulnerable members of society.
“This huge seizure of cocaine worth hundreds of millions of pounds is a result of intelligence sharing between the NCA, the Spanish authorities and the multi-agency Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre in Lisbon.
“Our officers were able to coordinate the tracking and surveillance of this drug smuggling submarine through MAOC(N) [Maritime Analysis and Operation Centre-Narcotics] utilising law enforcement and military naval and aerial assets.
“Seizures like this are vital in disrupting and dismantling transnational crime groups trafficking deadly drugs, and ultimately protecting the public from the damage they cause.”
The NCA said the investigation to determine the origin of the drugs and their intended recipients was ongoing, and although the use of submarines is very common in America, it is the first time this drug transport system has been detected in Europe.