South America is awash with cocaine, and traffickers are turning to new ways of getting it to Europe…. Submarines that carry illicit drugs dubbed ‘narco-subs’ are described as low-tech, uncomfortable and hazardous, earning them the nickname ‘water coffins.’
Narco-subs have ferried cocaine from Colombia to Central America since the 1990s and recently proliferated. Rarely true submarines, they are generally semisubmersibles that float mostly but not completely below the waterline and are nearly undetectable. Most are built out of sight in South American jungles for around $1 million a piece. The discovery of a narco-sub, in November 2019, off Spain’s northwestern coast, according to law-enforcement officials, was the first confirmation of rumors that such a vessel could reach Europe.
Excerpt from James Marson, Narco-Submarine’ Caught After Crossing the Antic, WSJ, Oct. 18, 2020