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High diving
June 30, 2010 10:00 PM   Subscribe

Homemade submarines up the drug smuggling ante - CNN recaps a Vice story from 2009 where reporters toured a narco-sub seizure facility in Colombia [full video - 27:48].

While most of the craft are not true submarines, they still are capable of delivering tons of cargo from South to North America. While there have been many seizures, designers (in the linked VBS video) claim 90% success when using retrofitted torpedoes.

Previously
posted by Burhanistan (18 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I want a submarine. Will they RICO them and auction them?

I could use my red marker to fill in my goal thermometer up to 52%. The goal? Bond villain.
posted by CarlRossi at 10:12 PM on June 30, 2010


CNN recaps a Vice story
Pardon me while I cancel my cable subscription.
posted by sanko at 10:24 PM on June 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Unmanned drones as a drug-running tool will surely be around the corner, too? If they haven't been used already.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:35 PM on June 30, 2010


uncanny hengeman: It seems inevitable, but I'm not sure that it's that good a fit.

+ They can be totally full of drugs without carting bulky humans around
+ They don't endanger a pilot.
- They're expensive.
- They require more technical expertise and infrastructure to maintain and operate.

From the look of the submarines, the drug cartels are not looking to invest in high tech solutions. Nor does safety appear to be much of a concern; losing the crew probably matters less than losing the cargo. The reasons against are going to continue to be weaker and weaker as technology gets cheaper and more pervasive, but I think it will be a while before the equation flips.
posted by aubilenon at 11:43 PM on June 30, 2010


I remember seeing something very similar in High Times magazine, way back when. It seems it must have been in the 80's or before, as I've not seen that magazine in a very long time (Wikipedia says it's still going, much to my surprise).

The idea was to hang a container, roughly the size of a foot locker, on the side of your boat. This held whatever you wanted to smuggle. If the CG came by, you let it sink. It was set up with some transmitter that would, only at the pre-assigned times, broadcast a signal to help find it.
posted by Goofyy at 11:54 PM on June 30, 2010


They're damn cool, I want one. "The goal? Bond villain" indeed, I'd paint mine dark grey and have an underground lair for a fleet of them, staffed with minions in woolen jumpsuits. But I'm not sure why they're so popular with drug runners, it seems to me that the economics of smuggling weigh against technological solutions in favour of the good old trusty unskilled labour of the poor.

Unmanned drones as a drug-running tool

Is solving the wrong problem; drones for the military and for law are designed to reduce danger to pilots and crew: the cartels don't place such a premium on the lives or freedom of their operatives/workers, and they don't assess risk with the same logic that makes UAVs sensible for Air Forces.

They already have drones—the mules who're promised easy money to cross borders.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 12:01 AM on July 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


The staff at CNN.com has recently been intrigued by the journalism of VICE...

Maybe someday the journalism of CNN itself can intrigue cnn.com staff?
posted by Kylio at 12:10 AM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good points, all.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:10 AM on July 1, 2010


Just saw a mini-sub in a boatyard last week. I'll be in the neighborhood later this, if it's still there I'll take a picture. It looked like it was a towed sub, rather than self-propelled, but I was driving by and didn't get a chance to look it over.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:17 AM on July 1, 2010


Drones should make it easier to get even more of the semi-submersible below water. All you need above the water line is a snorkel and GPS antenna.

The capture rate would go down to almost nothing.
posted by dibblda at 1:14 AM on July 1, 2010


Unmanned drones as a drug-running tool will surely be around the corner, too? If they haven't been used already.

Mentioned as the planned / possibly in production next step in the main link vid.

Unmanned drones as a drug-running tool

Is solving the wrong problem; drones for the military and for law are designed to reduce danger to pilots and crew: the cartels don't place such a premium on the lives or freedom of their operatives/workers, and they don't assess risk with the same logic that makes UAVs sensible for Air Forces.


They don't have to care about the crew, but the crew are there with the drugs. They care very much about safe transport of the cargo.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:44 AM on July 1, 2010


Editor's note: The staff at CNN.com has recently been intrigued by the journalism of VICE, an independent media company and Web site based in Brooklyn, New York. VBS.TV is Vice's broadband television network. The reports, which are produced solely by VICE, reflect a very transparent approach to journalism, where viewers are taken along on every step of the reporting process. We believe this unique reporting approach is worthy of sharing with our CNN.com readers.

Translation: Editor sez: hey! Someone just tweeted me that crazy SaberSegging page from Vice, and guess what I found? Some more crazy stuff called Dos and Dont's! LOL! Then I searched for cocaine, and found an article on Killer Coke, which lead me to an old Narcotics submarine VIDEO those guys made! Hey, if we can re-publish their story, maybe they'll invite us to some crazy-ass parties! That would be sweet!
posted by filthy light thief at 6:34 AM on July 1, 2010


From the video tour of the sub:

"Here we have the entry hatches, intentionally made oversize to accommodate the girth of the enormous balls required of the smugglers who would ride in this thing."
posted by digsrus at 7:12 AM on July 1, 2010


Boy, I could really go for a narco sub about now...
posted by Phanx at 7:20 AM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think Columbia drug lords should be contacting Rutgers students, if they're not already. I'm sure the underwater glider fleet technology could be easily modified for smuggling purposes.
posted by Crash at 7:30 AM on July 1, 2010


Here's a direct link to the gliders I mentioned above.
posted by Crash at 7:32 AM on July 1, 2010


Illegality begets ingenuity. Just as true now as then.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:14 AM on July 1, 2010


speaking of CNN's love for VBS, in 2007 they reported
Shane Smith, a Vice co-founder, says Viacom supplied not just money but technological know-how. He claims VBS will have $4.5 million in profit in its first year - "shitpiles of money," to use his term - thanks to the film and TV projects that are stemming from its online videos. (According to two people familiar with the terms, MTV Networks' commitment to fund the startup costs of VBS could translate into a half-interest in VBS four years from now.)
later in the article they quote Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman:
"This is the company that invented fragmentation in the cable world," he says. "In the digital world we're going to take the fragmentation further. Through Flux and other methods, we're going to link all those communities together and monetize them."
I'm not sure if this is a DO or a DON'T
posted by Hammond Rye at 10:05 AM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


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