Homemade cocaine-smuggling sub

BOGOTA Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:18pm EST

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BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian marines seized a makeshift submarine capable of smuggling up to 12 tonnes of cocaine through the Pacific to Central America, making it one of the largest such craft found, authorities said on Friday.

The nearly completed fiberglass submarine, found in a rural area in south Narino province, had space for four crew members, the Navy said in a statement.

Colombia's Pacific coast has become a key transport route for traffickers looking to access commercial sea lanes north to Mexico and the United States. Guerrillas, paramilitaries and traffickers often fight to control Pacific drug routes.

Rudimentary submarines and submersible containers dragged behind container ships are among the more inventive transport methods used by traffickers. Since 2005, Colombia's navy has captured 11 homemade submarines.

Colombia remains the world's No. 1 cocaine producer -- with output of at least 600 tonnes a year -- despite getting billions in U.S. aid to fight traffickers and guerrillas. But violence from the four-decade-old conflict has eased sharply.

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