Police in Galicia, northwestern Spain, seized a submarine last weekend about 20 metres long, loaded with tonnes of cocaine which had arrived from South America. Two Ecuadorian men were arrested as part of the operation in the seaside town of Cangas, near the border with Portugal, and one other man is still being sought.
Sources said that the weight of cocaine could be between three and four tonnes split into 152 separate bails. The street value of the drug could have reached 100 million euros.
This is the first time that a submarine carrying drugs from South American has been seized in Europe, although traffickers have been using them to travel to the United States.
Police explained that the submarine had been trying to pass the cocaine to a surface vessel but a storm had forced it to come closer to shore, where it ran aground and was abandoned. Officers believe other vessels were also on standby to take some of the shipment.
The operation began after a warning from MAOC, the EU maritime drug trafficking centre, that a submarine carrying cocaine was crossing the Atlantic to Spain, and police from Brazil, Portugal and the US took part. It is still not known exactly where the underwater vessel came from or who in Spain was leading the traffickers.
The vessel was homemade out of fibreglass and had a 2,000 horsepower engine to carry it the long distance across the Atlantic. Sources said it would have been hard to detect because of its shape, colour and size, easily being confused with a large wave or whale.