Document Type



Politics and Economics (CGU)

Publication Date



Political Science


Narcotics are moving at sea in relatively sophisticated nautical craft beneath the waves – we need to understand their capabilities and intent. This volume is a fine start. For several decades, law enforcement agencies and the militaries in the Western hemisphere have focused on developing strategies that will allow them to thwart the efforts of drug trafficking organizations and mitigate the flow of drugs into our great nation. In close partnership with its allies, the United States has acquired a rich store of experience in activities aimed at disrupting the activities of criminal organizations. In spite of the success of Operation Martillo targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus, the flow of illicit drugs into the United States continues at a high level. Just over 20 years ago, narco-submarines emerged as an alternative method of transporting narcotics. This study is important and relevant to the present challenges faced by law enforcement authorities and militaries as it specifically focuses on these specially fabricated vessels that have been used for drug smuggling purposes. This effort adds value to the existing literature on the subject as it contains several essays which describe the complexity of the challenges that narco-submarines present. The document also provides the background and context behind the emergence of these vessels. Furthermore, the work illustrates the evolution of narco-submarine technology and the advances in their design, features, and technical capabilities. Another important contribution of this paper is the extensive and comprehensive photo gallery, arranged in chronological order, which allows the reader to observe the evolution of narcosubmarine technologies. While this is a volume that will be of general interest to anyone with an interest in global security, the intended readers are military, homeland security, and law enforcement personnel who wish to learn more about these vessels and their respective capabilities. Policymakers and analysts may also find the work useful for understanding the detection and interdiction challenges that these vessels generate. Finally, it is important that we collectively consider the potential of these types of vessels to transport more than just narcotics: the movement of cash, weapons, violent extremists, or, at the darkest end of the spectrum, weapons of mass destruction. 5 This paper, by increasing the area of knowledge about narco-submarines, should enrich and deepen our understanding of the threat they pose to our domestic security, and indeed to the global commons.

Rights Information

© 2015 Robert J. Bunker

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.