A Colombian man has been caught and sentenced for trying to smuggle drugs across international borders in a homemade submarine. And as Market Watch Reports, this isn’t the first time he’s done this.
Jose Rosario Segura Balentierra was captured by the United States Coast Guard off the coast of Mexico along with four other in men last August. The Coast Guard intercepted the craft a few hundred miles off the coast. The sub had no name, markings, or flags. It was just painted green. Apparently, the men in the sub weren’t too scared of what was about to happen, as nothing the Coast Guard did would stop them. It took some action movie stuff to eventually get the sub to stop.
The hull of the unregistered craft, painted dark green and bearing no flag from any country, was mostly propelled under the water line when it was moving, while its engines sat above the surface.
The Coast Guard crew then fired warning shots off the submersible’s bow, but the drivers still didn’t stop, according to court documents. The Coast Guard then fired shots into the four outboard motors that were powering the craft, but were only able to make it stop when an officer jumped aboard the vessel and disconnected its fuel lines.
Once boarded, according to the Coast Guard, it appeared the men had tried to scuttle the sub to keep from being caught coke-handed, as two feet of water had entered the vessel. The most shocking piece of this Coast Guard report was the 4,400 pounds of snow the men were smuggling. It turned out to be worth more $35 million.
Investigators discovered that this wasn’t the first time that Balentierra had done this. In early 2019, he had allegedly done the same thing and seemingly received a slap on the wrist for it. These semi-submersible coke ships appear to be taking fairly frequent trips up the coast.
Prosecutors say that just 18 months before the August 2020 encounter, Balentierra had been deported from the U.S. back to Colombia after serving 41 months for similarly being caught piloting a submersible vehicle filled with drugs in the ocean off of Mexico.
While the men that worked with Balentierra received sentences, they got off lighter than he did. They claimed that they were just out of work mariners who accepted the job after being offered money. The only details they received were that they needed to move a ship from one part of the country to the other. They told prosecutors that after finding out it was much more than a simple ship moving job, they attempted to get out of it. But they were threatened being told that they could either do the job or they’d be killed along with their families.
Balentierra was sentenced to 16 years in prison while the other men received eight years.