According to the DEA, 910 tons of cocaine were produced in Columbia in 2016. An increase of 32% over 2015.
Exactly how much cocaine makes it to the U.S. from Columbia is unknown. But since the 90’s, smugglers and law enforcement have been engaged in high stakes one-upmanship. For the last 20 years, Russian engineers and local labor forces have been designing and constructing stealthy and effective submarines beneath the cover of Columbian rainforests. Trading speed for stealth, sleek, traditional drug running speedboats have been replaced by slower, lower profile, semi-submersible vessels, and submarines. These custom-made, battery-powered submarines typically have cabin space for a Captain, Navigator, and one crewman, and carry up to 8 tons (about $200 million worth) of cocaine per load into channels and waterways for distribution.
In response to the submarines, U.S. Customs has deployed maritime aircraft out of Corpus Christi, Texas and Cecil Field, Florida with enhanced radar equipment originally designed for F-16 fighter jets. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that the U.S. intercepts only about 25% of drugs coming into the U.S. and despite the maritime aircraft this percentage hasn’t improved in years. Homeland Security asserts that although detection has improved, interception remains difficult as interdiction units are frequently too distant to be effective.
Sources: Covert Shores; Popular Mechanics