The U.S. Coast Guard monitors thousands of miles of coastline keeping terrorists and drug smugglers from reaching land. As those criminals are constantly evolving their tactics, the Coasties have to be ready for pretty much anything, whether it comes on the surface or below.
A Coast Guard interdiction captured on video shows service members intercepting and boarding a submarine carrying 17,000 pounds of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The haul is valued at $232 million.
The Coast Guard Cutter Munro brought crew members close enough to jump onto the submerged craft and open the hatch. Within the submarine, five suspected smugglers and their contraband were discovered and removed.
According to NBC, 13 more drug-smuggling vessels have been captured by the U.S. Coast Guard between May and July in 2019. During that period, the Coast Guard has intercepted 39,000 pounds of cocaine and 933 pounds of marijuana.
The most recent bust makes up nearly half of that score, and will strengthen the cases against 55 alleged smugglers now in federal custody.
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“Make no mistake about it, Coasties, your courageous service is saving American lives,” Vice President Mike Pence told service members the day the drugs were unloaded in San Diego.
Some of the smugglers will be prosecuted in the U.S., while others will be remanded to international authorites for prosecution in their home countries, NBC reports.
Drug busts like these are rare, mainly because detecting submarines is much more difficult than finding criminals in ships on the water’s surface.
“They blend in,” Lt. Commander Stephen Brickey told CNN. “Most of the vessel is underwater, so it’s hard to pick out. They’re painted blue. They match the water.”
Making matters even more difficult, 70 percent of the Coast Guard fleet is over 50 years old. The cutter ships need substantial maintenance before they can be cleared for missions like these.
“They’re not really effective enough to meet this new threat,” Brickey said.
They aren’t without options, however, and this video shows exactly how the Coast Guard is making due. Watch the thrilling interdiction below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.