TUMACO, Colombia – Dozens of submarines, torpedoes and various other sea-going vessels and objects that were confiscated from drug traffickers have turned a beach in the Colombian Pacific port city of Tumaco into a veritable boat cemetery, revealing the extent of the daily battle waged against narcotics smuggling.
“They’ve tried a lot of methods” for smuggling drugs from South America to the United States and Europe, from inserting cocaine into ship containers to using boats to pull drug-filled torpedoes, the second-in-command of the Task Force against Drug Trafficking No. 72 “Poseidon,” Col. Rafael Olaya, told EFE.
Other methods include fishing boats, medium-sized commercial vessels, “go-fast” speedboats and semi-submersibles, many of which have become museum pieces at a beach next to a coast guard station in Tumaco, a port city in southwestern Colombia.
At first glance, the boats appear to be moored at a standard wharf, but these vessels were seized at sea from drug traffickers and include several blue submarines built at clandestine shipyards that have a capacity to transport a crew of three or four people and several tons of cocaine.
Authorities seized nearly 380 tons of cocaine in Colombia last year, 122 tons of which were confiscated by the Naval Force of the Pacific, Col. Olaya said, citing Defense Ministry figures.
Coca crops began to be planted in Tumaco and its surrounding municipality, which encompasses an area around the size of the US state of Rhode Island, in the late 1990s due to pressure on drug traffickers in Meta, Caqueta and Putumayo provinces.
The Tumaco region, where drug smugglers found ideal conditions for expanding their operations, now ranks as Colombia’s leading coca-growing region.