July 3, 2010, 8:29PM
Long the stuff of drug-trafficking legend, federal authorities announced on Saturday that they have helped seize the first known and fully operational submarine built by drug traffickers to smuggle tons of cocaine from South America toward the United States.
The diesel-electric powered submarine was captured in an Ecuadorian jungle waterway leading to the Pacific Ocean, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The sub, which is about 100 feet long and equipped with a periscope, was seized before its maiden voyage by Ecuadorian authorities armed with DEA intelligence.
The discovery is seen by authorities as a game changer in terms of the challenge it poses not only to fighting drugs but to national security as well.
"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," said DEA Andean Regional Director Jay Bergman..