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Spanish police recover empty drug submarine off north coast

Deutsche Welle 3/14/2023 Deutsche Welle
The submarine was found stuck in mud in a Galician estuary © Elena Fernandez/ZUMAPRESS/picture alliance The submarine was found stuck in mud in a Galician estuary

The vessel was found empty but is believed to have transported cocaine from Colombia to Europe. The province of Galicia where it was found is a hub for the international drug trade.Spain's Civil Guard on Tuesday refloated a submarine suspected of transporting cocaine from Colombia to Spain, just off the coast of the northwestern region of Galicia.

The vessel was found to be empty during a preliminary inspection with authorities suggesting that the crew had already made off with its contents.

A similar submarine was discovered in 2019, filled with over 3 tons of Colombian cocaine, after it was abandoned in a muddy estuary, also in Galicia.

Police shared videos on social media, first of the operation to refloat the vessel and then its transportation into the port of Xufre.

What do we know about the vessel?

The vessel was estimated to be between 15 and 22 meters (49 and 72 feet) long and was made out of fiberglass.

It was apparently abandoned after its propellor got stuck in the mud in the Ria de Arousa estuary, in the zone of Vilagarcia de Arousa in the province of Pontevedra.

Attempts to salvage the vessel included injecting pressurized air into it.

Its bow had been discovered first on Monday morning after fishing boat crews notice a small oil spill.

Police have not made any arrests and the whereabouts of the submarine's crew remain unknown.

Similar vessels found

The 2019 submarine discovery resulted in the arrest of two crew members from Ecuador.

The underwater vessels are difficult to track and are only used once. Galicia is a popular entry point for Colombian cocaine entering into Europe.

In 2021, Spanish police seized another semisubmersible that was in the process of being built in Malaga, on Spain's southern Costa del Sol. The homemade vessel would have been able to carry up to two metric tons.

Other similar submarines have been discovered in South America. They are rarely able to fully submerge.

ab/ar (Reuters, dpa, AP)

Copyright 2023 DW.COM, Deutsche Welle. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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