Spanish police have announced the seizure of a homemade narco-submarine able to carry as much as two tonnes of cargo.
Police discovered the nine-metre (30ft) vessel last month while it was being built in the southern city of Málaga, during a broader international drug operation involving five other countries and the EU crime agency, Europol.
The semisubmersible craft was made of fibreglass and plywood panels attached to a structural frame, had three portholes on one side and was painted light blue. It had two inboard 200-horsepower engines.
Rafael Pérez, the head of the Spanish police, said it had never sailed. “We think it was going to go to sea to meet a mother ship to take on board drugs,” probably cocaine, before returning to Spain, he told reporters.
“It is like an iceberg,” he said. “In practice, nearly all of it goes underwater apart from the top, which is the only part that would be seen from another ship or a helicopter.”
In 2019, a 20-metre semisubmersible craft was intercepted after running aground off the coast of Galicia. It was found to be carrying three tonnes of cocaine.
Similar vessels have been discovered in the past in the Pacific and Atlantic, especially off Central and South America. They are rarely able to submerge fully.
Police seized hundreds of kilos of cocaine, hashish and marijuana in various places in Spain in their wider operation this week, and 52 people were arrested.
Spanish police said in a statement that their counterparts in Colombia, the US, the UK, the Netherlands and Portugal also were involved in the operation.