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Video: Suspects Narrowly Escape From Sinking Narco-Sub off Spain

Narco-trafficking suspects swim for safety as their smuggling sub goes under (Courtesy Aduanas)
Narco-trafficking suspects swim for safety as their smuggling sub goes under (Courtesy Aduanas)

Published Jun 26, 2024 6:26 PM by The Maritime Executive

Spain's customs agency has intercepted another trans-oceanic semisubmersible drug boat in the Atlantic, rescuing and arresting four suspects, who sank their own vessel as the authorities approached. 

On June 24, the Spanish Tax Agency's Customs Surveillance Service and the U.S. DEA detected the semisubmersible at a position about 250 nautical miles off the coast of Cadiz. Working with Spain's Civil Guard and National Police, the customs agency vessel Fulmar intercepted the vessel.

However, the crew of the semisub decided to sink their own boat rather than surrender it to the authorities. They opened its seacocks, and it flooded within minutes. They climbed up on deck to safety, and as Fulmar came alongside, the semisubmersible sank from underneath their feet and headed for the bottom.

The crewmembers were all Colombian nationals, and the design of the 20-meter semi-sub was similar to other transatlantic narco-smuggling vessels seized in Spain in 2019 and 2023. From the construction and nature of the vessel, the authorities suspect that it carried a cargo of cocaine from South America. 

The area around the Canary Islands is a hotbed for ship-to-ship transfers between cocaine smuggling boats. On June 22, just a few days earlier, the Fulmar intercepted a RHIB loaded with cocaine near the island of La Palma. The narco-boat's crew threw their cargo over the side over the course of a six-hour chase, and Fulmar recovered a total of about 900 kilos. The boat was found abandoned on the beach at Tazacorte the following day.