Narco-sub with $27m of ‘scorpion’ cocaine seized in Colombia

Packages of cocaine seen with the scorpion symbol
Image caption,The Colombian Navy showed off the haul of cocaine, including parcels stamped with a scorpion

By Ruth Comerford

BBC News

A semi-submersible carrying almost 800kg of cocaine, including parcels stamped with a scorpion symbol, has been intercepted by the Colombian Navy.

The 15m-long (50ft) “narco-sub”, the first to be detected this year, was seized in Colombian waters.

The navy estimated the haul was worth $27m (£21m) and said the sub was believed to be on its way to the US or Europe.

Three people who were on board the craft have been arrested.

The navy said it intercepted the sub travelling through the Pacific Ocean on Sunday.

On board were packages of cocaine hydrochloride, many stamped with the scorpion image or labelled “Winnie” and “Carnal”.

The drugs and the suspects were transported to Buenaventura, a Colombian port city, the navy said. Further details about the suspects are yet to be released.

“With this seizure, the entry of nearly $27m to drug trafficking organizations was prevented, as a result of its sale in the international illegal market, as well as the distribution of approximately two million doses on the streets of the world,” the Colombian Navy¬†said in a statement.

Image of the narco-sub shared by the Colombian Navy
Image caption,An image of the narco-sub was shared by the Colombian Navy on Sunday

Narco-subs are a popular way to transport drugs as they can go largely undetected, and can be sunk after delivery. They are often homemade, constructed using fibreglass and plywood.

Colombia is the world’s largest producer of cocaine.

In 2023, the Colombian Navy intercepted 30 tonnes of the drug and more than five tonnes of marijuana.

  • The homemade submarines smuggling cocaine to Europe

In May last year, the largest narco-sub ever recorded in Colombia was intercepted with three tonnes of cocaine on board, according to the BBC’s US partner CBS News. It was about 100ft long and 10ft wide.

The UN said Colombia had set a new record in 2022 for cocaine production, with the cultivation of its main ingredient, coca leaf, spreading over 230,000 hectares (888 sq miles).

Authorities in Belgium said they had seized a record amount of cocaine at the port of Antwerp last year, as the port city has become Europe’s main gateway for the drug shipped from South America.

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