Drug smugglers in minisubs hunted by Seattle Coast Guard crews

The Coast Guard Cutter Midgett and its crew of 160, based in Seattle, were a long way from home. The cutter had traveled some 4,500 miles south in the Pacific Ocean, and on Jan. 20 was 335 miles off Costa Rica.

In the distance, the crew could see bobbing in the water the kind of quarry that was the Midgett’s mission: It was the distinctive outline of a “narco sub,” later found to be crammed with 6.6 tons of cocaine. The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates the haul was worth $138 million wholesale on the U.S. West Coast.

For whatever reason, the sub was dead in the water.

Earlier, the Midgett — a 378-foot vessel built for long-range missions that last for months — had received a report from a U.S. maritime patrol aircraft that had spotted the narco sub.

In the cat-and-mouse game between traffickers and law enforcement, the narco sub was the latest innovation….

By Erik Lacitis

Seattle Times staff reporter




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