A drug smuggling operation in the Pacific Ocean went awry over the weekend when toxic gases were accidentally released inside a submarine the smugglers were allegedly using to move the drugs, leaving two of the suspects dead and two others seriously ill, according to the Colombian navy.
Nearly 3,000 pounds of cocaine worth $87 million were located inside the submarine, which was bound for Central America.
Two of the suspects, who were found on top of the vessel “in poor health conditions,” were given medical attention before being transferred to local law enforcement’s custody.
The submarine, which was roughly 49 feet long, suffered some type of accident that caused “generation of toxic gases from the fuel,” the Colombian navy said.
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Drug trafficking organizations have increasingly turned to makeshift submarines and semi-submersible devices to evade law enforcement.
Jose Samir Renteria-Cuero, a 51-year-old Colombian man who pioneered the use of semi-submersible vessels, was sentenced to 27 years in prison eight years ago.
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The Justice Department said that Renteria-Cuero started out as a mechanic and built vessels specifically for drug trafficking, then “recruited mariners to participate in maritime cocaine smuggling operations.”
“The Colombian Navy will continue deploying all its capabilities to counter the scourge of drug trafficking structures that commit crimes in the Colombian Pacific,” the Colombian navy said on Sunday.