Agents say submarine used for smuggling
Agents involved in a Tampa-based federal investigation of international drug smuggling have revealed that for the first time, they intercepted a submarine used to smuggle drugs.
Authorities said Tuesday that eight Colombian fishermen pleaded guilty to federal charges of cocaine possession with intent to distribute. Agents from 'Operation Panama Express' told the Tampa Tribune that the day before the fishing boat was stopped last August, the crew on a U.S. Coast Guard vessel noticed and photographed a cable trailing behind the fishing boat.
When the boat was stopped the next day, the towing harness was gone. But the following day, guardsmen found a 31-foot steel sub about 15 miles away from the site of the boarding. The sub, which was four feet in diameter, contained 5,500 pounds of cocaine and was attached to a 350-foot cable, court papers said. The sub had an electronic transmitter in its nose cone.
Because the incident happened when Coast Guard personnel and equipment were deployed for operations related to Hurricane Katrina, Coast Guard officials who found the submarine could not get help towing it in. Running low on fuel, the Coast Guard sank the sub rather than trying to tow it back to port.