Captain Nemo of the cocaine trade

Darkside maker Enrique Portocarrero of Colombia is alleged to have designed and built up to 20 fiberglass submarines for transporting cocaine.
"He had a marvelous criminal vision," Colombian navy Capt. Luis German Borrero said. "He introduced innovations such as a bow that produced very little wake, a conning tower that rises only a foot above the water and a valve system that enables the crew to scuttle the sub in 10 minutes. He is very ingenious."

...

Portocarrero was living well. Police, who reported finding $200,000 hidden in the spare tire of his car, say he had invested his reputed $1-million-per-vessel fees in the purchase of five shrimp boats.

Administrative Security officials allege that Portocarrero helped invent "semi-submersibles," as the narco-vessels are called, because they don't dive and resurface like true submarines, but cruise just below the surface.

Portocarrero's craft are difficult for counter-narcotics officials to detect on the open seas because their tiny wake creates a negligible radar "footprint." Also, authorities say, the exhaust is released through tubing below the surface, frustrating patrol aircraft's heat-sensing equipment.

In Colombia, they call him Captain Nemo

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  1. If he weren’t a drug dealer, this wouldn’t be quite as interesting.

    Drug dealers provide a service that we demand. The state of their industry is a result of the laws we don’t do enough to change.

    Our hypocrisy makes drug dealers bad men (or, at the very least, our hypocrisy selects the worst people to participate in dealing drugs).

  2. This guy needs be to working for american industry. Another consequence of the pointless war on drugs

    Counter-economics:

    Counter-economics is a term originally coined by Samuel Edward Konkin III, a radical libertarian activist and theorist, who defined it as “the study and/or practice of all peaceful human action which is forbidden by the State.” The term is short for “counter-establishment economics”. Counter-economics is central to Konkin’s doctrine of agorism, an explicitly revolutionary variant of market anarchism.

    Konkin’s agorism, as exposited in his New Libertarian Manifesto, postulates that the correct method of achieving a market anarchist society is through advocacy and growth of the underground economy or “black market” — the “counter-economy” as Konkin put it — until such a point that the State’s perceived moral authority and outright power have been so thoroughly undermined that revolutionary market anarchist legal and security enterprises are able to arise from underground and ultimately suppress government as a criminal activity (with taxation being treated as theft, war being treated as mass murder, et cetera).

  3. He didn’t invent the idea of semi-submersibles, they were popular in the late 1800’s, they called them “Whalebacks”

  4. they would make great recreational craft in protected waters with the addition of some windows.

    OK, who wants to guess how they are catching them? Software that picks out the straight course line traces? Satellites? Aircraft? Sentry buoys? (surface, bottom?) Submersible surveillance drones? Sharing of military data? Bribes and finks? Sacrifices to conceal the other thousand subs?

  5. Police, who reported finding $200,000 hidden in the spare tire of his car, say he had invested his reputed $1-million-per-vessel fees in the purchase of five shrimp boats.

    Wouldn’t this make him the Forrest Gump of the cocaine trade?

  6. If he weren’t a drug dealer, he’d by my hero.

    If the man is as bright as he seems to be, he is a boat builder, not a drug dealer. They’ll have to bend the law with a crowbar to prosecute him for selling boats.

  7. “law”? The people prosecuting are also the people trafficking,the “law” will be whatever they say it is.

  8. Here’s the most shocking part:

    Law enforcement has also been helped by a law the U.S. Congress passed in October making it possible to convict a boat’s crew on the basis of visual evidence that they were manning the subs. Before, crews avoided prosecution by simply scuttling the craft and sinking the drugs, depriving law enforcement of the evidence they needed.

    So you can now be arrested on drug charges simply for being on a submarine, whether or not drugs are actually involved. It’s a sad day for amateur submariners.

  9. If he weren’t a drug dealer, he’d by my hero.

    He is my hero. I don’t care much for coke, but submarines are cool.

  10. I disagree with the Whaleback comment up above. Whalebacks were not designed to be semi-submersible any more than any other ship design. They were designed to shed water much more easily, and take less damage in heavier seas than conventional ships. These drug-subs appear to have the majority of their decking underwater. Whalebacks are very interesting ships in their own right. If I’m not mistaken, you can still take a tour of a whaleback freighter somewhere in Minnesota.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we see these things going fully submersible before long. Then it’ll be a bit like the German subs around England and off the coast of America.

    If they do go fully submersible, will there be a new law that allows them to depth-charge the subs to the surface for boarding and inspection, or do they actually have to intercept and inspect the ship?

  11. You know, I’m really not a fan of the cocain trade, but i’m curious as to what exactly the charges are/will be… “Making things that were purchased by drug dealers?”

  12. My prediction for the next step in the evolution of these craft:

    Dealers locate suitable ship in Columbian harbor, have swimmer go out and quietly weld a ring onto the hull. Ship unknowingly tows submersible into US waters. Since submersible is just coasting it will emit no engine noises, no CO2 plume, essentially no thermal signature. Any electronic or radar signals will look like they’re coming from the ship. The noise and bulk of the legitimate ship will make it a royal pain to see the small parasite trailing along behind. Parasite cuts rope after passing through area of heavy interdiction, goes about its business, is exposed to sensors for much shorter time and in area where it is not expected, lawmen and sensors are not deployed, ready or waiting.

    Wait, shouldn’t I be billing the DHS for this??

  13. “He had a marvelous criminal vision,” Colombian navy Capt. Luis German Borrero said. “He introduced innovations such as a bow that produced very little wake, a conning tower that rises only a foot above the water and a valve system that enables the crew to scuttle the sub in 10 minutes. He is very ingenious.”

    He had a marvellous criminal vision, or he was a very creative solver of design problems in tricky circumstances? This War is one of such tremendous waste of resources and human ingenuity.

  14. “Bolivian President Evo Morales last month expelled the Drug Enforcement Administration, alleging that DEA agents were conspiring to overthrow him; U.S. President George W. Bush dismissed the charges as absurd and suspended trade privileges for the Andean nation.

    Drug-War Defeat

    In Ecuador, meanwhile, President Rafael Correa has refused to renew the lease on the U.S.’s only military outpost in South America, a critical platform for the U.S. war on drugs.”

  15. Anonymous @10, Scuba SM @21:

    In terms of semi-submersibles, Confederate “David” torpedo boats like this one pre-date whalebacks by a good twenty years, and very definitely were designed to run awash. To my eye they bear a certain resemblance to Sr Portocarrero’s vessels, allowing for the smokestack and the different materials used. (There’s also a similarity of purpose, though the CSS David et al took a more direct approach to the problem of US naval blockade.)

  16. The insanely ineffective “war on drugs” does little to solve the problems of drug use, and everything to empower the worst elements on both sides of the law. If drugs were legal, monitored and taxed, money would be available to help people do lots of good things, like treat drug dependency and mental health issues, for just a start; and money would be denied to the criminal element that causes misery on a scale impossible to fully grasp. It doesn’t happen because the mechanism that could make it happen has been corrupted by the tidal wave of money and power generated by it’s illegality. The whole approach to this problem is a cancer on our social system. The “system”, from the politicians, military, cops, lawyers, clergy, doctors, prison complex, all of it, is as culpable as the narcos. The little guys are fucked, from the farmers to the end users, to all the vicitms of crime.
    What’s that definition of insanity again?

  17. @21 –
    “If they do go fully submersible, will there be a new law that allows them to depth-charge the subs to the surface for boarding and inspection, or do they actually have to intercept and inspect the ship?”

    The thing is, even if they are forced to surface, the crew still could either scuttle the craft or the evidence.

    So the state will have to make “new” laws making it illegal to operate a submersible craft, or somesuch illogical argument.

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