Coast Guard Busts Submarine Carrying Over $500 Million Worth of Cocaine, Weed

55 accused smugglers were taken into custody.
Coast Guard Busts Submarine Carrying Over $500 Million Worth of Cocaine, Weed

A video of a drug bust released Thursday by the United States Coast Guard looks like a scene out of a Hollywood action movie

The footage shows members of the Coast Guard in pursuit of a semi-submarine—a vessel that was partially underwater, and partially exposed—that had been barreling through the eastern Pacific Ocean while carrying more than 17,000 pounds of cocaine.

“Stop your ship!” a member of the coast guard can be heard yelling in the minute-long footage, as his vessel bears down on the semi-submarine.

Midway through the video is when things get particularly dramatic. With the Coast Guard ship practically touching the target, a member of the crew eventually leaps atop the semi-submersible vessel, which is known as a “narco-sub.” As waves crash against him, the coast guardsman pounds on the top of the vessel before an individual, whose face was obscured by the Coast Guard, emerges from the submarine’s hatch.

The events documented in the video occurred on June 18. It was just one of 14 drug raids over the two months by the Coast Guard, as the U.S. ramps up its efforts to stop smugglers traversing from Central and South America. Since May, the Coast Guard says that it has confiscated roughly $569 million worth of cocaine and marijuana. Vice President Mike Pence was at the Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado on Thursday as 39,000 pounds of cocaine and 933 pounds of marijuana were taken off the island. In addition, 55 accused smugglers were taken into custody. 

Cracking down on drugs brought into the United States has been a top priority for the Trump administration, which has advocated hardline immigration and border security policies.

On Thursday, Pence saluted the Coast Guard for seizing $3.6 billion worth of illegal drugs and detaining more than 400 smugglers already this year.

“The courageous service of the [U.S. Coast Guard] is saving lives!” Pence said on Twitter.

He added in a subsequent tweet: “The drugs that are brought across our border bring billions in healthcare expenses, crime & the loss of thousands of Americans lives. The challenges & threats the [U.S. Coast Guard] face underscore why President [Trump] & our administration are determined to SECURE our border!”

The vessel shown in the footage released on Thursday was carrying five individuals, according to CNN. Such semi-submersible vessels are far from commonplace in the world of smugglers, due to their exorbitant costs. But when they are deployed, they can be exceedingly difficult for the Coast Guard to track — unless they’re spotted by an aircraft.

“They blend in,” Lt. Commander Stephen Brickey told CNN. “Most of the vessel is underwater, so it’s hard to pick out. They’re painted blue. They match the water.”

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