Thursday, October 02, 2008

US Coast Guard Sees Rising Threat From Semi-Subs

Foreign Confidential....

Legislation imposing tough penalties for operating undocumented semi-submersible vessels in international waters would help drug-interdiction efforts, the deputy chief of the US Coast Guard’s Law Enforcement Office said Sept. 30.

Self-propelled semi-submersibles, or SPSSs, are small sea vessels, usually less than 100 feet in length, designed to sink themselves when detected, Coast Guard Cmdr. Cameron Naron explained to bloggers in a teleconference. Drug traffickers are adapting the technology with increasing success to evade law enforcement, he said.

“Drug-trafficking organizations continue to adapt these vessels … to our law enforcement successes,” Naron said. “These SPSSs were once perceived as a very impractical and risky smuggling tool, but now have proven successful as an innovative and highly mobile asymmetrical method of conveyance.”

Naron said the number of encounters with smugglers using semi-submersibles to transport illegal drugs from South America to the continental United States ballooned in fiscal 2008, with 62 known incidents in the first three quarters of the fiscal year, compared to about two dozen over the previous six and a half years.

Coast Guard officials estimate that two to three semi-submersibles carrying illegal drugs travel up the Pacific coast each week, he added.