Another cocaine-laden submarine sinks off Colombia

BOGOTA Thu Jan 3, 2008 6:23pm EST

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BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian cocaine smugglers scuttled a U.S.-bound homemade submarine off the South American country's Pacific coast, Colombia's navy said on Thursday.

It was the second time in a month that Colombian forces, backed by the U.S. Coast Guard, stopped an underwater craft that was then sunk by its crew members to destroy their incriminating cargo.

In both cases, the smugglers quickly opened the hatches to sink the vessels before they could be boarded by authorities.

Both submarines had the capacity to ship 10 to 12 tons of cocaine to the world's biggest market. Colombia's navy has stopped 18 cocaine submarines since 2005.

The multibillion-dollar Colombian narcotics trade funds a guerrilla war in which thousands are killed and displaced every year as a mosaic of criminal groups fight for control of lucrative cocaine-producing land.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta, writing by Hugh Bronstein, editing by Philip Barbara)

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