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Elusive Narco Drone Submarines Surface In Spain
Money is a strong motivator. Drug smugglers continue to innovate, finding sensible and often ingenious ways to traffic their narcotics undetected. Spanish police seized three of a new kind of smuggling vessel on July 3 2022.
The new type is described as a uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUV). In the narco-submarine taxonomy, these are a more sophisticated form of self-propelled narco torpedo (NT-SP).
Each of the remote-controlled craft can carry an estimated 200 kg of narcotics. The Gibraltar area is known for hashish smuggling from nearby Morocco. But reports suggest that these narco torpedoes were destined for French criminals. Their payload would likely have been cocaine rather than hashish.
3 of the new vessels were seized by police, two unfinished and one ready. The factory was based in Castellar de la Frontera, about 12 km inland from the Bay of Gibraltar. 8 people were arrested. The vessels were being manufactured along with modified UAVs (uncrewed air vehicles, aka drones) and various watercraft. A surfboard had been modified to carry narcotics in a false bottom. Although it is unclear whether it was powered. Surfboards have been used before as uncrewed surface vessels, packed with drugs, for short range missions.
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The srone submarines are essentially identical, suggesting series production of a refined design. They appear to be made out of steel. A tall sail extends up out of the fuselage, suggesting that the design is technically a semi-submersible. Spanish police described them as 'semisumergibles', which makes sense. These craft appear small enough to fit within a transit van, making discrete transportation relatively easy. Adding ballast for depth control would be considerably more complicated and make them larger. Instead the top of the fin is above the water. This may also be the location of communication equipment.
Propulsion is electric, with a single electric motor under the keel. Large downward canted hydroplanes are also amidships.
There was another apparent submersible design, although no details are available. Note the protective frame appears to be for a propeller, with the motor inboard. My guess is that this is upside down in the available images.
Narco surf-board also discovered
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