Video: Mexican Navy Captures Large Semisub With 3.5 Tonnes of Cocaine

Courtesy Semar

Published Jul 3, 2023 3:31 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Mexican Navy has announced an unusually large drug bust in the waters of the Eastern Pacific. The service caught a semisubmersible laden with 3.5 tonnes of cocaine in the vicinity of Baja California, far to the north of the high-traffic smuggling zones off Central America. 

On Thursday, Mexico's navy secretary reported that a semisub had been spotted by a patrol aircraft on June 27 in the Pacific. Naval vessels equipped with helicopters were dispatched to catch the illegal vessel. When boarding teams intercepted and inspected the semisubmersible, they found that it contained 186 packages of cocaine weighing a combined total of 3.5 tonnes. 

The boarding team arrested five people aboard the semisubmersible. All were transported to the port of La Paz in Baja California for processing. 

According to the Mexican Navy, the semisubmersible vessel was large and designed for unusually long range relative to most examples of the class. It was the largest caught since at least the beginning of the Obrador administration at At 85 feet overall, a deadweight of several tonnes, and an endurance of 20 days, this was a substantial smuggling craft.

With an estimated cruising speed of eight knots, the vessel would be capable of making a one-way trip of more than 3,500 nautical miles. In theory, this is enough range to reach San Diego from the cocaine export regions of Colombia's Pacific coast. (A semisub journey has never been reported on this route, if ever attempted or detected.) 

Semisubmersibles are infrequently intercepted off Mexico's Pacific coast, and this was the first one found by the Mexican Navy this year. Their primary use is to carry cocaine from the Colombian coastline to Central America, and they are captured regularly by U.S. Coast Guard patrols in this region.