Over 9 Tons of Cocaine Seized

In November, the US Coast Guard accomplished a significant drug seizure operation in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. They intercepted and confiscated over 18,000 pounds of cocaine in a series of operations. This massive haul was brought to San Diego for offloading in early December.

The cocaine, with an estimated street value of about $240 million, was captured in six distinct operations conducted near the coasts of Mexico and South America. These operations occurred between November 7th and 24th and involved collaborative efforts from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.


A notable highlight of this operation was November 20th, when a Coast Guard vessel named Waesche intercepted a self-propelled semi-submersible. This vessel alone was transporting over 5,500 pounds of cocaine. The Waesche, a 418-foot national security cutter based in Alameda, California, is a critical asset in patrolling regions prone to high drug trafficking.

This operation’s success was acknowledged by US Attorney Tara McGrath, who praised the Waesche’s crew for their critical role in preventing these drugs from reaching American streets. McGrath highlighted the significant impact of removing these nine tons of cocaine from circulation, noting its potential to reduce access to harmful substances and hinder the financial operations of drug cartels.

The success of this operation contributes to the larger trend of drug seizures in the US, with cocaine being the third most seized substance after marijuana and methamphetamine. In the current year, the US has taken over 81,000 pounds of cocaine, says US Customs and Border Protection.

What are “Narco-Subs”?

Narco-subs, short for “narcotic submarines,” are custom-built, low-profile vessels used by smugglers to transport illegal drugs. They have gained notoriety for their use by drug trafficking organizations, particularly in Latin America, for smuggling large quantities of narcotics, such as cocaine, into other countries.

Graph-Narco Subs
The evolution of Narco-Subs. Image Credit: Grey Dynamics.

These submarines are typically built in remote jungles and are specifically designed to be difficult to detect. They ride low in the water to evade radar and sonar detection and are often painted blue or green to blend in with the ocean water. Despite their name, most of these vessels are not true submarines capable of fully submerging. Instead, they are “semi-submersibles,” meaning they travel just below the water’s surface, exposing very little of the vessel.