The Boats the Drug Cartels Don't Want You to See
The sea has always been the preferred transit route for drug cartels to smuggle drugs from Latin America to the United States, but catching these criminals has now become harder since the traffickers’ adoption of new wave breaking go-fast boats ‘Picudas’, named after the species of Barracuda fish.
For years, drug cartels have refitted Eduardoño style offshore fishing boats with new engines to make them travel faster in the ocean. Picudas are made entirely of fibreglass, making them lighter, faster, and perhaps most importantly, far harder for Coast Guard radars to detect than previous smuggling vehicles. With journey times slashed in Picudas, less fuel is consumed, less fuel cans are stocked onboard and ultimately more drugs can be stashed.
These ‘wave-breaking’ Picudas typically measure 32-38 ft and are often powered with several 200 horsepower motors. Compared to the older modified fishing boats, Picudas offer up to 4 times more horsepower and around 6 ft more space, meaning up to a ton of drugs can be stashed onboard.
The War on Drugs has been a contentious issue for decades, and these new developments in marine trafficking make detecting, let alone catching these criminals more problematic. Although millions of dollars worth of drugs are seized each year by authorities, the pay-off still appears to be worth the risk for the criminals. Picudas are not even the top-end of drug smuggling vehicles with submersibles and narco-submarines also believed to be use. With drug cartels constantly adapting to new technologies, it appears the game of ‘cat-and-mouse’ will continue for many years to come.
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Article by Jack Bartrop
Image Credits: Medium