With three-quarters of potential cocaine shipments sliding under their noses, United States authorities are having a hard time keeping up with the Latin American drug cartels. Part of the problem, a new report in The New York Times says, is the fact that the famously daring and elusive drug-running submarines aren't just operating in the Pacific Ocean any more. These diesel-powered vessels have taken the Caribbean by storm, and the technology powering them is getting more sophisticated.
Although they captured 129 tons of cocaine on its way to the U.S. last year, the Coast Guard thinks that close to 500 tons could now be making it through. "My staff watches multi-ton loads go by," Rear Adm. Charles D. Michel told The Times. Part of the problem is a new class of fully submersible craft, three of which have been seized in recent weeks. (Before, the subs were only semi-submersible, depending on a snorkel to bring in air for the engine.) These new drug-running subs are capable of carrying up to ten tons of cocaine at a time and can run from Ecuador to Los Angeles without coming up for air. On top of it all, officials are also worried that these subs could be used by terrorists.