From William Booth and Juan Forero comes this Washington Post story, Saturday, June 6,2009:
MEXICO CITY -- When anti-narcotics agents first heard that drug cartels were building an armada of submarines to transport cocaine, they thought it was a joke. Now U.S. law enforcement officials say that more than a third of the cocaine smuggled into the United States from Colombia travels in submersibles.
An experimental oddity just two years ago, these strange semi-submarines are the cutting edge of drug trafficking today. They ferry hundreds of tons of cocaine for powerful Mexican cartels that are taking over the Pacific Ocean route for most northbound shipments, according to the Colombian navy.
The sub-builders are even trying to develop a remote-controlled model, officials say.
"That means no crew. That means just cocaine, or whatever, inside the boat," said Michael Braun, a former chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The subs are powered by ordinary diesel engines and built of simple fiberglass in clandestine shipyards in the Colombian jungle. U.S. officials expect 70 or more to be launched this year with a potential cargo capacity of 380 tons of cocaine, worth billions of dollars in the United States.
"This is definitely the next generation of smuggling conveyance," said Joseph Ruddy, an assistant U.S. attorney in Tampa who prosecutes narco-mariners.
The submersibles are equipped with technologies that make them difficult to intercept, even though U.S. forces use state-of-the-art submarine warfare strategies against them.
Authorities say most slip through their net. "You try finding a floating log in the middle of the Pacific," one DEA agent said. U.S. officials and their Colombian counterparts have detected evidence of more than 115 submersible voyages since 2006. They have apprehended the crews of more than 22 submersibles at sea since 2007. Six crews have been arrested this year. The Colombian navy has intercepted or discovered 33 subs . . . U.S. officials fear that the rogue vessels could be used by terrorists intent on reaching the United States with deadly cargos.
Madness is in their hearts, wrote the ancient wiseman (Ecclesiasties 9:1). Nothing much has changed in 2009. From Warner’s world,