Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Key West group helps nab $107M in cocaine

The U.S. and Colombian military captured a makeshift submarine loaded with more than two tons of cocaine in the eastern Pacific Ocean last month under the direction of the Truman Annex-based Joint Interagency Task Force South, according to a U.S. Navy press release.

The vessel was a self-propelled semisubmersible, built to remain partially below the water's surface making it difficult to detect. They are built in South American rivers by drug cartels that use them to ship illicit cargo north.

"U.S. and regional partner nation law enforcement agencies rarely spot a semisubmersible on the high seas," states the press release. "And when they do, capturing a semisubmersible is very difficult since the crews often attempt to scuttle and sink the craft to dispose of evidence."

Colombian Navy and Air Force, U.S. Navy and Coast Guard forces aboard USS Ingraham tracked the vessel before launching a helicopter and a response boat, which prompted the semisubmersible crew to attempt to scuttle the vessel.

A tactical unit with the U.S. Coast Guard boarded the vessel, arrested the crew of three and kept it from sinking, according to reports.

The operation was part of Operation Martillo (hammer in Spanish), a counterdrug effort comprising 15 nations that is supported by Joint Interagency Task Force South -- headquartered on the Truman Waterfront in Key West.

JIATF South is made up of active military and civilian law enforcement personnel.

It has provided a wide array of intelligence in support of Operation Martillo since the operation began on Jan. 15, 2012.

The interdiction took place in May. The military typically releases such news a week or two after such incidents to vet the information it is releasing.

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