Spanish police announced yesterday that they seized three semi-submersible vehicles, used to smuggle drugs across the Strait of Gibraltar. The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strip separating Spain and Morocco and is a popular drug trafficking route, particularly for hash from Morocco and cocaine from South America. One of the ‘Underwater, Unmanned Vehicles’ (UUV), or submarine drones, was fully built while the other two were in construction. The UUVs are said to be able to carry 200kg of drugs each and can be controlled remotely.
While semi-submersible vehicles are nothing new, semi-submersible narco subs are a popular technique of cocaine traffickers in Colombia, the technology and use of UUVs in the criminal world is fairly novel. This is the first time Spanish police have seized UUVs. One of the eight arrested in the police operation was said to be a helicopter pilot and had the technical knowledge to design the UUVs.
The group was also said to be manufacturing drones and a number of other drug smuggling vehicles, including trailers with ‘double bottoms’ to store drugs within. One of the group’s vehicles, a tow-truck, was seized in Denmark with a large quantity of hash. Some of the drones seized are said to have a range of 30 kilometres. The group would then sell these devices to a number of criminal organisations in Europe. These UUVs were said to be for a French cocaine trafficking group.
As well as the arrests and seizure of the vehicles, 145kg of hash and 8kg of cannabis was also seized.