United States authorities are struggling to keep up with “the most ingenious innovation in the drug trade”: narcotics submarines.
Drug cartels have improved their techniques and technology from easily detectable “go fast” boats intended to simply outrun drug corps, to semi-submersible craft with conspicuous snorkels—and now to fully submersible vessels. The most advanced of these subs can haul 10 tons of cocaine at a time and for over 3,000 miles without surfacing for air. That’s the distance from Colombia to California. Although interdictions have captured 129 tons of U.S.-bound cocaine, 500 tons are estimated by the Coast Guard to be making it to the American cocaine market, notes the Atlantic Wire.
The drug trafficking quandary is bad enough, but officials worry that these subs could also be employed by terrorists. “If you can carry 10 tons of cocaine, you can carry 10 tons of anything,” said Rear Adm. Joseph Nimmich of the Joint Interagency Task Force South, which polices drug-interdiction efforts in the waters south of the United States.
A defense expert and director of GlobalSecurity.org, John Pike, told New York Times contributor David Kushner that “if al Qaeda decided they wanted to attack the homeland, or Iran decided they can attack the American homeland, this might be the way of getting in.” He added that “this is the 21st-century equivalent of German U-boats.”
Drug cartels and terrorist organizations can act independently or in collusion. In our September 2010 article “America: Terrorists on the Doorstep,” we referenced Rep. Sue Myrick’s letter to the Department of Homeland Security, noting that “Hezbollah and the drug cartels may be operating as partners on our border.” There are a number of such reports that show that drug cartels and terrorist organizations are cooperating.
In addition, drug organizations still may act independently to cause terror in America. In May 2010, authorities foiled a plot by the Los Zetas cartel to blow up a Texas dam.
At any rate, improving technology and transportation systems for these organizations does not bode well for the U.S.