back to article US customs bust coke-smuggling 'submarine'

US Customs are feeling pretty pleased with themselves after busting a stealthy "semi-submerged smuggling vessel" packed with $352m of Bolivian marching powder. The coke-smuggling semi-sub. Photo: US Customs The unlikely craft was spotted on Sunday off the coast of Guatemala in the Eastern Pacif by a Florida-based US Customs …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's hope it wasn't cut with bicarb...

    Plink plink fizzzzz... :)

  2. nick brice


    You could do with one of those for the Rockall Navy

  3. AndyB

    Stealthy, I think not...

    Have these people never heard of camouflage? I mean, really, the bloody thing is bright blue.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    goodness gracious how ostentatious.

    doesn't that sub look kinda, umm - RUSTY though?

    wouldn't want to be submerging in that...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    semi submarine

    It looks like it doesn't actually submerge, more of a low radar stealth than a visible stealth. It's also the wrong colour, somehow I think all drug related subs should be yellow. :)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If they scuttled the vessel, how come it's still floating?

    Did the big red button not work?

  7. andywebsdale

    Do they really

    pay over 18 grand an ounce for their coke(in the US!) - someone should tell them they're being ripped off...

  8. paul bell

    semi submarine

    Lester: any idea how far the eastern pacific is from Jacksonville? in flight refueling for P-3 aircraft, do you suppose?

  9. Ron Eve

    How much?

    Yes something seriously awry with their figures. 32 metric tons - or about 1.29 million ounces. Lets see... even at a <cough> street price of $100 (no way!) per ounce that's still only $129m. Where do they get $2.2bn?

    Oh maybe they're talking about 'cut' cocaine, which, if stepped on with 1.29m ounces of Mannitol would double the takings to still 'only' $258m.

    I wonder how you'd go about buying 32 tons of baby laxative...? :-)

    Definitely need to change their dealer...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "prosecuting any threats to United States"

    Oh come on, the only threat this is to the US is to their economy. It is less addictive and harmful than alchohol (see recent bbc report) but of course if they legalised it then Columbia would be one of the richest country's on earth and the US would be reliant on them, which is the only reason it is illegal.

  11. Dimitrov

    Real sub too hard to get?

    With all the money they get from drug smuggling you'd think they can buy a real submarine or something...

    P.S. Or at least some paint.

  12. Francis Vaughan

    Not as silly as they might look.

    The sub is rusty and dinged. It looks well used. This has a rather unfortunate implication. Clearly it has made quite a number of undetected, successful, runs before being spotted.

    One assumes that the blue paint job is actually a good match for the sea when it gets closer to land. They probably didn't count on being spotted whilst still in deep water.

    Since the US is supposedly capable of detecting the best submarine technology that cold war era Soviet technology could devise, finding this one, especially if it has made a number of previously undetected deliveries, is perhaps not such a stunning success.

  13. Nick Leverton

    Ding dang

    >The sub is rusty and dinged. It looks well used

    It's all right though, it was just a bit of foam that fell off during launch.

  14. Andy Tunnah


    "pay over 18 grand an ounce for their coke(in the US!) - someone should tell them they're being ripped off..."

    thats for a kilo

    Yes something seriously awry with their figures. 32 metric tons - or about 1.29 million ounces. Lets see... even at a <cough> street price of $100 (no way!) per ounce that's still only $129m. Where do they get $2.2bn?

    its about $1200/oz for pure

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US coke prices

    grams runs $50-$75

    3.5 grams (eightball) runs $100-$160

    so yeah, the ounce price if FSCKED

    I refuse to do any more math, I'm highly irritated.

  16. A. Merkin

    RE: How much?

    This shipment was actually destined for Redmond, Washington, and so the cost was estimated using the "Lost Vista Sales" model.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Francis Vaughan

    Much like the 9/11 hijackings, it makes you wonder if there's some old, grizzled former USSR general watching this news from his Stalin-era shithole apartment, pounding his fists on the arms of his chair, saying, "I knew it! I fucking KNEW it!" in reference to the US defense systems.

  18. laird cummings


    "...but of course if they legalised it then Columbia would be one of the richest country's on earth..."

    Hardly - it'd be taxed, regulated, and 'bureaucrated' nigh unto death. The US price wouldn't change much, except it might drop some - not much, as theprice is already at or near what the market will bear. The middle costs (taxes and such), would go through the roof OTOH, so the price paid on the supply end would have to fall - Columbia does NOT want this legalized - it'd cut their drug profits' throat.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Title

    It is less addictive and harmful than alchohol (see recent bbc report)

    Cocaine is a lot more "addictive" than Alcohol or Heroin. That report considered withdrawl effects, damage to society, Tolerance, Intoxication, availability etc .

    Talking about "give me some right now or I will kill you", Cocaine is the top drug.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ron Eve

    "Yes something seriously awry with their figures. 32 metric tons - or about 1.29 million ounces. Lets see... even at a <cough> street price of $100 (no way!) per ounce that's still only $129m. Where do they get $2.2bn?"

    Try $100 a gram not ounce. ;-) At $100 an ounce it would be overdose city

  21. Webster Phreaky

    Pepsi submarine would surely have a Red White and Blue paint job....

    I can just see the TV commercials now ....

    Coke semi-sub sputtering, belching diesel smoke an oily coke trail following it; with a Los Angeles class Pepsi sub, decks loaded with bikini top - hot shorts Navy "uniformed" all gal crew romping on the deck zooming by the coke sub. Life and smuggling goes better with a Pepsi (sub)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    An Florida surveillance aircraft In the Pacific, another conspiracy, ahmm, or did you guys simply botch up the location. I can understand the Americans not being able to locate the Pacific in reference to Florida, who have trouble locating America on an map, but the British! Can we Australians come over and run your educational system, and government.

    The reason it's bright blue camouflage, because the Pacific is bright blue of course, and they were probably inside watching Water World on Blu-ray, and wondering when they would get into Tokyo, Florida ;) .

  23. Tawakalna

    call that a submarine?

    I was expecting one of the old U-Boats that took escaping Nazis to their comrades in S. America at the end of the war. Instead it's a bright blue coffin that looks like something our local council put up for the kids in the park. I bet it doesn't even have any torpedoes.

  24. webdude


    story is a very poorly done fabrication beginning to end.

    next time you need a filler story hire a 9 year old, they are better at it.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Note the location of a: the bust and b: where the customs boat is based when it is not roaming the seven seas. Has no-one heard of the Panama Canal?


    El Reg

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guatemala coast?

    Wait ... isn't that ... like thousands of kilometers *outside* US waters? Somehow this sounds like the USA going out of its way to "catch the eeevil criminals"; if this was inside Guatemalan waters, add up an illegal invasion to another country to that.

    That said, those dudes must have some balls to use that kind of "sub"; that thing could easily go down all by itself. Ow. And ... is that the original pilot waving on the camera???

  27. Ishkandar

    Re Panama canal

    If that boat went through the Panama canal AND got there in time to intercept that sub, it's got to be the fastest boat on (or above) Earth !! And the Septics moan repeatedly about the Chinese naval build-up on the Pacific !!

    Come back, Thunderbirds !! Where are you when we need you ??

    BTW that sub looks like something floating off Blackpool beach powered by a semi-sozzled fat bloke pushing at the pedals !! All that's missing is the knotted hankie...

  28. Richard Silver badge

    Odd route to go though

    The Panama Canal is probably the most secure sealane on the planet - it's simply impossible to sneak a boat through the locks without being seen.

    That goes for fully-submersible as well - the locks aren't deep enough!

    Which leaves me at a bit of a loss as to where the smugglers thought they were going.

  29. Lauri Pajunen

    Actually amazed

    I've looked at a few projects on the web to build even a surface running sub and frankly their not that common - and usually a bit problematic. So I'm rather amazed that some drugsalespersons have really been able to build one. Subs face a huge load of problems which will require solving. And altough drug producers might have the dough required, I'm a bit supprised they have the dock for such a feat.

    Hopefully they will rise it - didn't look how deep it was where it sunk...

  30. Charles Manning

    Sounds 100% perfect

    "...prosecuting any threats..." makes it sound as if they have a 100% success with stopping the flow of drugs into USA. In reality they are probably closer to the other end of the scale and only prosecute very few threats.

  31. Shane Lusby

    Stop. Think. Continue.

    They are not saying the SUB went through the panama canal. They are pointing out that the Customs unit is based out of Florida, but that does not mean that it was straight out of Florida that day. Just as the smugglers may have been based out of Columbia doesn't mean they are not allowed to leave Columbia to actually do their smuggling.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    $50 Million

    Average REAL street price would put their haul of 3.2 metric tons at $150 Million (uncut).

    Obviously they don't sell that much for "street price", which is the part that always makes be chuckle. Even someone selling in ounces prices their gear well under so-called street prices.

    So the reality is this probably represents about $15-20 Million in losses to the Colombians - in other words pocket change.

    The $2.2 Billion comes from the usual math(s) law enforcement use for press conferences, that is to say it is whatever impressive-sounding number they throw a dart at. The DS, and I would imagine the DEA, think it's just as funny as you do.

    The war on drugs itself is about as successful as the war on terror (the one they started and lost to 13 yr old, impoverished, Iraqi school children).

    Cocaine and heroine have about the same level of mental addictiveness - the physical part is mostly irrelevant, sure it's nasty, but it's the depression that sends people back after they've dealt with the 1-4 weeks of flu and runs. US prescription pain killers are worse than either of them, and cigarettes aren't too far behind. Crystal Meth is in a league of its own.

  33. Tom

    New Math?

    Maybe they use the same New Math that the RIAA, Movie studios, and software companies use when they talk about bootlegs...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So this is where all the real stealth technology was originaally created. See the sides - instead of being round they are at odd agles to deflect radar thus making it invisible.

    No-one has yet mentioned the nuclear power plant festering away... or was it just a good old fashioned diesel plant?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh now!

    this is just sick all that money and couldn't come up with anything

    better than this rusty little submarine what a bunch of slackers a little time some espionage and some money for infrastruture and they could have had a nice quiet fully submersible craft that would contain

    some interdiction countermeasures to make sure they got their load there safely. Sloppy just sloppy.You want to make money sometimes you have to spend a little.

  36. mike


    This is the real deal ...

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