TEGUCIGALPA – Another 4.5 tons of cocaine were recovered from a small submarine scuttled this month by drug smugglers off Honduras’ Caribbean coast, bringing the total amount of the seizure to 7.3 tons, a top military official in the Central American country said Saturday.
“This is the biggest blow to drug trafficking” in the country’s history, armed forces Gen. Rene Osorio told reporters in this capital.
Honduran authorities and the U.S. Coast Guard had discovered 2.8 tons of cocaine through Thursday in initial searches of the wreckage, located at a depth of 36 meters (118 feet) off the country’s eastern coast, Osorio said, adding that another 4.5 tons were found on Friday.
He said Washington has asked that the seized drugs and the four crew members of the semi-submersible craft arrested two weeks ago – a Honduran and three Colombians, all unindentified – be turned over to them for prosecution in the United States.
But Osorio said his country’s Foreign Ministry will request that the Honduran be tried in his homeland.
Honduran authorities have seized 11.5 tons of cocaine in joint operations among the country’s army, air force, navy and Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Coast Guard since February, Osorio said.
Some shipments have been seized from aircraft that arrived from South America and others from speedboats in Honduras’ Caribbean waters.
Honduran authorities want to bring the sub to the surface and will request assistance from the United States and Canada, which have special equipment for that type of operation, if necessary, Osorio said.
The suspects were apprehended July 13 after scuttling the sub and fleeing in a dinghy as units of the Honduran navy and U.S. Coast Guard closed in on the vessel.
It was not until this week, however, that Coast Guard divers located the submarine on the sea floor at a spot some 16 nautical miles off the coast of Gracias a Dios province.
Authorities suspect the submarine’s journey began in Colombia, one of the world’s leading producers of cocaine.