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Washington, May 5, 2008
U.S. Congressman Ted Poe

The drug cartels in South America, specifically in Colombia, continue to figure out innovative ways to import cocaine at a profit into our country.


Now they are doing it by sea, and they are using submarines that they make in the jungles where they make the cocaine that they bring into the United States.

I have here, Mr. Speaker, a photograph of a submarine. This photograph was taken by the United States Coast Guard as they were on patrol off the coast of Colombia with the United States Navy. This submarine is made out of fiberglass. It is about 100 feet long and it carries approximately $300 million worth of cocaine. It has a crew of five.

It is made in such a way that when intercepted by the United States Navy or the United States Coast Guard, they are able to pull certain levers and valves on this submarine and it is junked in the Gulf of Mexico or off the coast of Colombia. They scuttle these ships, because what happens is when they scuttle them, the five man crew jumps off the boat into a lifeboat, and then our United States Navy has to rescue them and save them, but they can't prosecute them for importation of drugs into the United States.

These submarines cost the drug cartels about $1 million apiece to manufacture. Intelligence sources tell us that the drug cartels will bring in approximately 90 more loads of drugs into the United States from Colombia using these submarines the rest of this calendar year.

They are made in such a way that they are highly mobile. They go about 14 knots apiece, and they are able to go all the way from Colombia into the United States without refueling. It is a constant problem for our Navy and our United States Coast Guard to track these individuals and to catch them with the cocaine.

Only one situation where we, I say we, the United States Navy and the Coast Guard, were able to capture one of these vessels before it was scuttled and prosecute the crew was when they tried to sink it off the coast of Colombia after seeing the United States Navy. But what happened was after they scuttled the submarine, a load of cocaine, a bundle of cocaine, if you will, came to the surface. Once it came to the surface it was confiscated by our Navy. The five member crew was captured and they have been taken to Tampa, Florida, and they are on trial for importation of narcotics into the United States.

I bring this to the House's attention, Mr. Speaker, because of the fact that Congress needs to deal with this issue. These submarines carry no flag. They are not registered to any nation or foreign government. The crew members come from all over the world, mostly from Colombia. They claim no citizenship from any nation. And they don't claim, of course, possession of the vessel.


So Congress can deal with this issue by making it a Federal offense to use a submarine within international waters that carries no flag, carries no registration of another nation, and if a person is caught operating one of these vessels, they could be prosecuted as if they had drugs. The drug cartels are smart. They know if they can destroy the evidence they can't be prosecuted. We need to make a law that being in possession of this submarine is enough to prosecute them for crimes on the high seas.

Mr. Speaker, I might add that these vessels are so manufactured that they are not just able to carry cocaine into the United States worth $300 million, or 12 tons, that is how much cocaine, but that same vessel can go into any of our ports in the United States as a submarine carrying weapons, explosives, weapons of mass destruction, and used as some type of suicide submarine, similar to what was used against the USS Cole some years ago in the Middle East.

So the United States Coast Guard and Navy is to be complimented for tracking these vessels and doing everything they can to interdict the individuals that bring that cancer into the United States, and Congress needs to deal with the issue, to have these submarines that are basically at war with the United States bringing in these narcotics, have it be a crime to be in possession as a crew member of one of these vessels. It is things like this where we have to keep constant diligence in fighting the war on drugs.

Just to be clear, Mr. Speaker, intelligence tells us that these submarines are made by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. That is the military wing of the Colombian communist party. Of course, that is how they finance their revolution and the revolutionary ideas in South America.


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