The U.S. Coast Guard based in Northern California seized a semi-submersible vessel carrying more than 16,000 pounds of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific Ocean last month - the largest bust of its kind in Coast Guard history.
The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton intercepted the 40-foot "self-propelled semi-submersible" in the Pacific Ocean 200 miles south of Mexico on July 18 and arrested four alleged smugglers, officials said. The Guard seized 275 bales of cocaine.
Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy says that the Alameda, California-based crew also apprehended four suspected smugglers. The drugs are valued at $181 million.
The drugs were found on a semi-submersible vessel, which is mostly submerged, with just the cockpit and the exhaust pipe visible above water.
Authorities say the vessel was not a submarine but a boat designed to sit just at the water line, almost sinking, but not quite, and painted blue to blend in. They are also loaded with the most advanced sensors available.
The bust was made about 200 miles south of Mexico last
month. It was not announced until Wednesday. The names of the suspects were not released.
Conroy says the vessel sank during towing and about 4,000 pounds of cocaine were lost. Conroy says there was no harm to the environment.
The Coast Guard says they've made about 25 captures like this in the last ten years.