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Disguised Narco Submarine Found In Europe

Police in Malaga, Spain have reported that they have discovered a narco-submarine aboard a ship. The vessel was disguised to look like a cabin cruiser. The disguise included fake deck furniture and a canvas sun roof (known as a Bimini Top).

It is the fourth so-called narco submarine found in Europe in the last 15 years. So far, all have been associated with smuggling drugs into Spain. Logically other seaward European countries are also vulnerable however. These include Italy, France, Portugal, Ireland and the United Kingdom. What has been found is likely only the tip of the iceberg.

The narco submarine is believed to have been for smuggling drugs across the Straits of Gibraltar. This is a common route from Morocco to Spain, and often involves ‘go-fast’ power boats. But narco submarines are relatively unknown on this route and none have been found before.
Narco Submarine Found In Europe
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Most narco-submarines are not actually submarines, just very low-profile vessels. They run with waves running over their decks and less than a meter above the water. This makes them incredibly hard to see and it clearly works, we can be confident that most get through.
Narco Submarine Found In Malaga
The craft was about 9 meters (30 ft) long, 3 meters (10 ft) wide and 3 meters (10 ft) tall. It was estimates to be able to carry two tons of narcotics, likely hashish given its expected route. However Spanish Police have also suggested that it might have been intended for smuggling cocaine. “We think it was going to go into the high seas to meet a mother ship to take on board the drugs,” probably cocaine, before returning to Spain".

Its compact overall dimensions mean that it could be transported by road, from where it was constructed to a port where it could be loaded onto the mother ship. There have been a few examples of this in Latin America, but most narco submarines are too large. They are built in artisan boat yards hidden in the jungle. This allows them to be much large, often around 20 meters (65 ft) long.

Because Europe is much more populated, with few if any suitable sites for clandestine boat yards on the coast, road transportation is likely to be a consistent design factor in European made narco submarines. This is likely to limit their size to around 10 meters in length.

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According to reports it is thought that it was built in a Dutch shipyard and transported by land to Malaga. This is close to the British territory of Gibraltar and near to where the Straits are narrowest. It is a common area for drug smuggling. But to date it has generally been the domain of go-fast boats (the Spanish variety are often rigid inflatables) and helicopters.

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Drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) landing narcotics in southern Spain can be violent. They are willing to take on law enforcement attempting to stop them. They use diversions and potentially lethal tactics to make a getaway. The use of Narco Submarines may indicate a shift from speed and aggression to stealth.

European law enforcement has not had to tackle narco submarines. There are a much more common occurrence in the Eastern Pacific, mostly transporting cocaine from Colombia up to Mexico for onward transportation to markets in the United States. But yet another incident in Europe may be a wake-up call.

Spanish police also found a custom boat in a trailer. This is unusually deep for a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) and has a hard collar at the bow,. Possibly it is also a low profile vessel (LPV).
Narco Submarine Found In Malaga

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