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Underwater Underworld

by Luca Zanetti (659 words)

A single cocaine shipment can have a street value of hundreds of millions of dollars, a fact that drives an ever more sophisticated cat-and-mouse game between drug cartels and law enforcement agencies. Illegal drugs travel not only by truck, plane and boat, but even by submarine and semi-submersible.

Colombian drug cartels employ ever more sophisticated arsenals and tactics in their efforts to better each other as well as domestic and international efforts to shut down their operations. Cocaine has been carried by human ‘mules’, hidden inside car tyres, concealed in truckloads of other goods, and dropped from aircraft as law enforcement agencies fight to intercept as much of the dangerous cargo as they can. Land and air are not the only export routes, however, and both high-tech fibreglass powerboats and ordinary fishing trawlers have also been used to transport cocaine and other drugs. During the 1990s, however, as police increased surveillance of surface vessels, cartels turned to semi-submersibles, sealed boats that travel just below the ocean’s surface.

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