Drug Enforcement Administration agents helped Ecuadorian authorities seize a drug sub that had been secretly built to transport tons of drugs to the U.S. and was being readied for its maiden voyage, the DEA announced.
"The advent of the narco-submarine presents new detection challenges for maritime interdiction forces," said Jay Bergman, the DEA's Andean regional director. "The submarine's nautical range, payload capacity and quantum leap in stealth have raised the stakes for the counter-drug forces and the national security community alike."
The twin-screw, electric sub measures about 100 feet long. The air-conditioned interior measures about 9 feet high and included a periscope.
The investigation of the captured submarine and the individuals responsible for its construction is ongoing. One individual has been taken into custody by Ecuadorian authorities at the site of the seizure.
The submarine was constructed in a remote jungle environment in an effort to elude law enforcement or military interdiction, and is currently located near a tributary close to the border of Colombia.
As a result of DEA intelligence, Ecuadorian authorities were able to seize the vessel on July 2 before it was able to make its maiden voyage. This is the first seizure of a clandestinely constructed fully operational submarine built to facilitate trans-oceanic drug trafficking, according to the agency.