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DEA: Drug sub found in Ecuador cost $4 million

By the CNN Wire Staff
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DEA finds first true drug submarine
  • Submarine could have hauled 6 to 10 metric tons of cocaine, DEA says
  • The $4 million vessel was built at a clandestine complex
  • Sub is first of its kind found by drug agents, DEA says
  • It is diesel-electric powered, the drug agency said

(CNN) -- A submarine found by anti-drug police in Ecuador last week cost $4 million to build and could have hauled 6 to 10 metric tons of cocaine, a top U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official said Wednesday.

The fully functional submarine was built at a drydock at a clandestine complex that housed 50 people, said Jay Bergman, Andean regional director for the DEA.

Authorities found the sub hidden in marshland under triple-canopy jungle, Bergman told CNN's "American Morning" program.

"This is the first seizure of a clandestinely constructed fully operational submarine built to facilitate trans-oceanic drug trafficking," the DEA said in a statement last week.

"Traffickers historically employed slow-moving fishing boats, sail boats, pleasure craft go-fasts," Bergman said last week. "The advent of the narco-submarine presents new detection challenges for maritime interdiction forces. 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."

The vessel utilizes twin screws and is diesel-electric powered, the agency said. It is about 98 feet (30 meters) long and 9 feet (nearly 3 meters) high from the deck plates to the ceiling. It has a periscope and an air-conditioning system.