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Customs capture the moment the narco-sub was boarded. SUR
This is the moment four drug traffickers were arrested after narco-submarine was intercepted off coast of Spain
Crime

This is the moment four drug traffickers were arrested after narco-submarine was intercepted off coast of Spain

The crew of the 20-metre-long semi-submersible attempted to sink the vessel after it was spotted by the authorities, following a tip off from the USA

M. A.

Cadiz

Friday, 28 June 2024, 10:00

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The overproduction of cocaine in South America and the large amount of money involved in the trafficking of this substance has led to the increase of its smuggling all over the world. The Cadiz area of Spain's Andalucía region is seen as a transit point for many of these traffickers, who see its waters as a good channel for their merchandise to enter Europe. In recent years, seizures and arrests have intensified, and the ways of attempting to do so have also multiplied. The latest interception of a narco-submarine off the coast of the province is a clear example of this.

On Wednesday National Police and Guardia Civil office and Customs agents intercepted a narco-submarine (a semi-submersible vessel) off the coast of Cadiz and arrested its crew, four Colombians, for allegedly being involved in the transfer of cocaine to Spain. Authorities said the 20-metre-long vessel is "similar to those already uncovered in Galicia, in the Aldán estuary in 2019 and then the Arousa estuary in 2023."

This was very much a joint international operation. The crew members were seized and arrested at sea following their rescue after they attempted to sink the submersible some 280 miles west of the coast of Cadiz when they were surprised by the appearance of the Customs vessel Fulmar.

According to investigators, "the vessel has similar characteristics to those of other narco-boats located in previous operations and, because of the location of the intervention and the crew's behaviour, it is presumed that cocaine was being transported on board."

SUR
Imagen principal - This is the moment four drug traffickers were arrested after narco-submarine was intercepted off coast of Spain
Imagen secundaria 1 - This is the moment four drug traffickers were arrested after narco-submarine was intercepted off coast of Spain
Imagen secundaria 2 - This is the moment four drug traffickers were arrested after narco-submarine was intercepted off coast of Spain

The joint operation was launched on the 24 June after information was received from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), indicating a possible drug shipment exchange between an unknown target and a presumably semi-rigid speedboat in an area where increased surveillance was already being maintained. It just so happened that the Fulmar was already sailing to that area in order to optimise its return journey to port.

Then, on the morning of 25 June, some 280 miles west of Cadiz, this 20-metre semi-submersible was spotted. As soon as the vessel's crew became aware of the Customs boat's proximity, they opened the ballast valves and climbed to the top of the vessel to get to safety. After the semi-submersible had sunk, along with its cargo, the four crew members were rescued and detained by the crew of the Fulmar.

Narco-boat incident days earlier

The investigators are linking this intervention to a previous one just days earlier when 900 kilos of cocaine were picked up that had been thrown into the sea by a 'narcolancha' (high-speed drugs boat) that was transporting it. The crew of the Fulmar' in the early hours of Saturday 22 June, located the semi-rigid boat in the suspected handover zone. After being spotted the narco-boat began to flee, still loaded with a large quantity of bales of the type normally used in cocaine trafficking.

The chase, in adverse weather conditions, lasted for more than six hours but, in the end, the attempt to smuggle the drugs was foiled. The crew of the narco-boat dumped the cargo of 30 bales containing nearly 900 kilos of cocaine.

Poseidon, the "similar" narco-submarine linked to alleged Galician drug baron Padín

The 'narco-submarine' that was sunk off the coast of Cadiz and which was allegedly carrying cocaine is "very similar" to other vessels intercepted or located in recent years, such as the Poseidon which was discovered last year in the Arousa estuary (Galicia). Shortly before it was found, it was suspected that it had unloaded tons of drugs on land with the help of other boats.

This submarine, which was linked to Vidal Padín - now more popularly known for inspiring the television series Clans - had been located off the coast of Vilaxoán, in Vilagarcía de Arousa, and also recovered in another joint operation. Its discovery was linked to other narco-boats that had appeared some days earlier off the Galician coast.

Following its location and the arrest of six people, the investigating court released Padín, alias 'El Burro', a businessman who has been under the investigators' sights for years for his alleged links to the world of drug trafficking and money-laundering. Poseidon was also around 20 metres long and it is estimated that it could carry between 3,000 and 4,000 kilos of drugs.

The other vessel of "similar characteristics" was the one found in Aldán in 2019, the only semi-submersible that has been seized to date with its cache of cocaine still stashed inside. It was carrying three tonnes of drugs. According to the charges the crew belonged to an international criminal organisation whose purpose was to bring a shipment of cocaine from Brazil to Spain on board this "homemade" vessel.

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