Spanish Cops Seize Homemade 'Narco-Submarine' Intended for Drug Smuggling

Police in Spain have seized a homemade submarine they believe was built to smuggle illegal drugs. The action was part of a broader operation involving the European Union crime agency Europol.

Dubbed a "narco-submarine," the blue vehicle is 29.5ft long and was discovered in a warehouse in the city of Málaga in the country's south. The seizure took place in February but was only announced by Spanish National Police on Friday.

The improvised vessel is made of fiberglass and plywood and the authorities believe it was designed to transport drugs, but had not yet been used for its intended purpose.

Police arrested 52 people in raids across Spain and seized hundreds of pounds of cocaine, marijuana and hashish. Officers also dismantled a drugs lab.

The submarine is thought to have originated in Colombia. It has three portholes and two 200-horse power engines.

The vessel is unfinished and Spanish police said at a press conference on Friday that it never undertook a maiden voyage.

"We present the first semi-submersible vessel located in Spain, that was being prepared to traffic drugs. [We] took part in a large-scale operation that allowed us to detain 52 members of a narcotics production and distribution network," Spanish National Police said.

"We think it was going to go into the high seas to meet a mother ship [to] take on board the drug," Rafael Perez, head of Spain's police force, told reporters. He said the drug in question was likely cocaine.

Perez said the submarine "is like an iceberg" because most of it would sink in water.

"In practice, nearly all of it goes underwater apart from the top, which is the only part of it that would be seen from another ship or a helicopter," he said.

Homemade submarines have been used to transport illegal drugs in the past. They have featured in smuggling operations between Latin America and the U.S., but are relatively rare in Europe.

One such vessel ran aground off the coast of Galicia in north-western Spain in November 2019. It was carrying over 4,400lb of cocaine, which police seized. Two people were arrested and were reportedly from Ecuador.

In September 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard captured a 40-foot long-long improvised submarine carrying 12,000lb of cocaine with the help of the Colombian coast guard. The drugs were valued at more than $165 million.

The "Narco-Submarine" Seized by Spanish Police
The "narco-submarine" seized by Spanish police in February. The capture was formally announced at a press conference on Friday. Spanish Police