Drug Smugglers Caribbean Semi-submersible Interdicted

Press Release
Friday, April 20, 2012

USCG, partner agencies, intedict Western Caribbean drug sub

The crews of the Coast Guard Cutter Decisive, Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island, Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S), and the Honduran Navy have interdicted a drug smuggling, self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) vessel in the Western Caribbean Sea.

SPSS vessels are used regularly to transport illegal narcotics in the Eastern Pacific, and this interdiction is only the fifth Coast Guard interdiction of an SPSS in the Caribbean.

Built in the jungles and remote areas of South America, the typical SPSS is less than 100 feet in length, with four or five crewmembers, and carries up to 10 metric tons of illicit cargo for distances up to 5,000 miles. Drug traffickers design SPSS vessels to be difficult to spot and to rapidly sink when they detect law enforcement, thereby making contraband recovery difficult.

A Coast Guard Air Station Miami aircrew, working in the Caribbean in support of JIATF-S Operation Martillio, spotted a suspicious vessel and notified 7th Coast Guard District watchstanders of the location.

The cutter Pea Island and Decisive diverted to the given position and pursuit boatcrews interdicted the SPSS and detained four suspected smugglers. The SPSS sank during the interdiction in thousands of feet of water.

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