Spanish police recover suspected drug submarine off north coast

The vessel discovered off the Galician coast was empty but is believed to have transported cocaine from Colombia.

In a dramatic operation, Spain’s Civil Guard refloated a submarine believed to have transported cocaine from Colombia to Spain. The vessel was found to be empty during a preliminary inspection, leading authorities to suggest that the crew had already made off with its contents.

Similar to a submarine discovered in 2019, filled with over 3 tons of Colombian cocaine, after it was abandoned in a muddy estuary, also in Galicia, the vessel was estimated to be between 15 and 22 meters long and made out of fiberglass. The abandoned vessel was discovered after its propeller got stuck in the mud in the Ria de Arousa estuary, in north western Spain.

Galicia is a popular entry point for Colombian cocaine entering Europe, and the discovery highlights the challenges faced by law enforcement in tracking these difficult-to-detect underwater vessels.

Police have not made any arrests, and the whereabouts of the submarine’s crew remain unknown. However, in 2019, the discovery of a similar vessel resulted in the arrest of two crew members from Ecuador.

With these semi-submersible vessels being used only once, the operation to refloat the vessel was a rare opportunity to investigate how these craft are built and operated.

This latest incident follows Spanish police’s seizure of another homemade vessel capable of carrying up to two metric tons of cocaine in 2021, emphasizing the ongoing challenge of keeping drugs off the streets.

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Written by

James Orange