× Sailing ship captures a narco sub
Mexico has just marked what it hopes will be its end to its cocaine trafficking problem by seizing the world’s most expensive drug-smuggling submersible, the La Anegada.
It is currently at the Isla Mujeres port off Tamaulipas state, in neighboring Coahuila state, in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Italian-designed La Anegada has nine wooden skims that can be joined together or used as a single, 750 kilogram pile for large operations, and a wing-like compartment that can be used for transportation.
Named for the misty white Caribbean waters, La Anegada has been used by Mexican drug traffickers for more than ten years, Pemex’s local naval intelligence unit told Reuters.
If it wanted to, a team of pilots and smugglers could easily take it up to 80 km offshore in 30 minutes with the submersible’s payload of a 3 tonne shipment.
The speed is faster than Mexican speedboats, capable of reaching speeds of up to 100 km/h. The narco sub’s open design and large glass windows make hiding difficult, making it more difficult to detect.
But the anti-narco sub appears to be an illusion, as no drugs have ever been found on the La Anegada.
Pemex said it had fished out some cement blocks — believed to be used to make the submersible — and other parts.
Despite the occasional vessel being recovered, Pemex often described it as an anomaly, but the Colombian navy seized a similar submersible last year and formally named it La Cima.
Pemex could not confirm the Anegada’s title, but Mexico is increasingly interested in developing drug trafficking technology in an effort to make it less attractive to criminals.
Pemex’s local director of intelligence Jorge Martinez told Reuters in November the agency would be using the diving skills of underwater biologists and marine archaeologists to improve Mexico’s drug submarine capabilities.
Earlier this year, Mexico announced plans to build three oil-submersible marine surveillance units, part of its five-year integrated coastal defense plan.
At a cost of at least 500 million pesos ($28 million), and using high-tech helicopters and sensors, the project is the country’s attempt to make a more prominent military response to drug trafficking.
Even before such drills, Pemex had been using Coast Guard vessels to patrol its coastline, first in 1988 and expanded to four vessels in 2003.
By Camila Castillo, Reuters