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Colombian Navy Seizes 800 Kilos in First Semisub Bust of the Year

Semisubmersible seized by Colombian Navy
Image courtesy Colombian Navy

Published Jan 24, 2024 8:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

Colombia's navy has made its first semi-submersible bust of the year, seizing 800 kilos of cocaine and arresting three suspected smugglers. 

The vessel was intercepted off Colombia's Pacific coast, and it appeared to be under way to Central America. The western Colombia to Central America route is one of the busiest maritime smuggling corridors in the world.

A Colombian Navy boarding team searched the vessel and found packages of cocaine in multiple compartments on board. They arrested the boat and the three crewmembers, and transported the semisub to Buenaventura, a small port near Cali. 

The service said that the seizure was worth $27 million and would have provided about two million street doses to cocaine consumers. 

The Colombian Navy stays busy intercepting smugglers in the Eastern Pacific, and last year it busted 20 semisubs carrying a combined 30 tonnes of cocaine. The northbound smuggling corridor historically steered towards the American market, but a large share is now diverted to Europe, where prices are high. At Caribbean seaports in Panama and Mexico, Colombian cocaine consignments find their way into EU-bound shipping containers, overlooked by busy (or complicit) port security.  

The flood of cocaine from Central and South America is large enough that European authorities have launched an EU-wide task force to address it. 

“Europe has a drug problem – and it is getting worse,” said Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy at the task force's launch Wednesday. “To tackle the growing inflows of cocaine and other illicit substances into the EU, we need customs, law enforcement, and port authorities to work more closely and more effectively together."