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The US coast guard’s biggest drug bust ever involved 16,000 pounds of cocaine and a homemade submarine

The US coast guard says it seized $181 million worth of cocaine in a high seas drug bust on July 18, after a navy pilot spotted a 40-foot-long, blue semi-submersible 200 miles off the coast of Mexico. Such vessels, nicknamed narco-submarines, have become increasingly popular for drug trafficking in the Americas over the past decade.

When coast guard officials from Alameda, California, intercepted and boarded the homemade submarine, they found 16,000 pounds of cocaine and four Colombian men.

The operation is shown in a video, released yesterday:

The officials arrested the men and recovered 12,000 pounds of cocaine before the other 4,000 pounds sank with the ship.

In addition to being hard to detect, these boats—mostly submerged with just a cockpit, often painted blue, and an exhaust pipe above the surface—are barely seaworthy.

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