New Warning of Drug Subs

They are often harder to detect than Russian submarines because of the way they skim the surface; a fleet of mini-subs, able to travel up to 2,000 miles while evading US Navy and Coast Guard ship, and carrying cocaine destined for the United States.

Top officials from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of Homeland Security along with the White House Drug Czar will gather today in El Paso, Texas to discuss the increasing drug trafficking trend of using small submersibles to deliver drugs to the US.

As many as 20 mini subs are being used to move huge quantities of cocaine through the Caribbean, federal law enforcement and Coast Guard officials told late last year, but the use of subs is now becoming even more prevalent.

The cocaine vessels give "very little signal," according to Coast Guard Adm. Joseph L. Nimmich, director of Joint Interagency Task Force South, based in Key West, Fla.


"They started out with four to five tons," said Adm. Nimmich. "The new ones are estimated to carry between 12 to 15 tons of narcotics."

From October of last year to February of this year the Coast Guard had reports of 27 small subs trying to enter US coastal areas. That's more than in the six previous years combined.

US officials say the cocaine trafficking groups actually assemble the vessels in the jungles of Colombia and then truck them to remote parts to be launched.

The vessels carry a crew of only two or three and often are purposefully sunk if detected by patrol boats, officials say.

The use of subs comes as US officials say cocaine prices have risen an estimated 45%.