The drug lord used many ingenious strategies to get his product to the United States. Many were discovered and stopped using. But others have gotten their modifications. Some continue to be used by today’s criminal gangs.
Pablo Escobar came to bill hundreds of millions of euros per week with the drug trafficking business. For this, he pioneered several methods of trafficking with which he sent cocaine abroad. It included a submarine and chemical processes. It also included an aircraft fleet and mules. He was known for having two bottom suitcases and fishing boats. They were just some means used to fill the United States with drugs. Colombian criminal gangs have currently retaken some of these strategies and sophisticated others.
These are some of the biggest mysteries about the illicit business that the late leader of the Medellín cartel has raised. There was an alleged submarine that two CIA ex-agents said they found. Doug Lax and Ben Smith inspected the seas of Colombia, where they located the remains of the ship. In addition, it was said to have hidden a guaca with about 70 million dollars.
The Finding Escobar’s Millions program televised the expedition on the Discovery UK channel. The documentary is recorded when professional divers find scraps of metal from the ship. They also find a box that appears to be a battery. But they never find the supposed money or the drug that was said to remain there. Few talks about Escobar having had a submarine.
The capo had a failed attempt to buy a submarine from the Soviets. They even tried doing it with the help of the then president of Cuba, the late Fidel Castro. And the truth is, it is impossible to get one in the international black market. That’s why the new bosses have opted to manufacture them with their means. This has been confirmed by the Colombian Public Force, which has already seized ships of this type.
In 2017, the Colombian Navy found the first electric submarine used to transport cocaine in the San Juan and Baudó river basins. It’s a rural area in the department of Chocó bordering Panama. It was a huge, 11-meter green boat. It could navigate three meters below the surface, up to three tons of coca. It was thanks to its electric propulsion.
The submersible was constructed manually with sheets of naval steel, forming four stabilizing fins. It used radars and navigation cameras. There were more than 100 batteries that fed the two electric motors that operated for the immersion. There were estimates by the authorities. Its construction cost more than 1.5 million dollars. It should have taken between five and six months.
“The batteries that feed the machine do not produce gases and allow navigation in immersion. It makes it difficult to detect them,” the Navy reported. They explained that it does not appear in radars. It appears to a point with which the waves are also indicated. Its manufacture was so elaborate that the authorities assumed that who did it worked in the Navy. It was because almost nobody has that specialty. And according to the investigation, it could belong to an alliance between the Gulf Clan and the ELN.
With this submarine, they discovered a new strategy to transport drugs abroad. It showed the ideas of the once largest drug trafficker that has ever been in Colombia without ever being able to fulfill it. In the same way, criminal gangs dedicated to illicit business have sophisticated methods. They were used by Escobar and resumed others that in the 1980s made Colombia. They were the largest exporter of cocaine to the United States.
Other methods of Escobar
Pablo Escobar had a fleet of 15 planes and 6 helicopters with clandestine routes in different parts of the Colombian jungle. It included other countries transporting cocaine directly to the United States. But it also had other methods of distribution that varied. Since then, they have been used by different drug traffickers. In recent years there has been an unusual return to these strategies.
The reasons are varied, explained a source of the Police to the newspaper El Espectador. One of them has to do with the seizures of the authorities. It’s because when a large cargo falls, the drug traffickers lose a lot of money. This has forced the criminals to traffic in smaller quantities. IT means fewer losses if they are discovered. Moreover, it makes detection more difficult. That strategy is known as ‘smurf. ‘
In the 1980s, the Medellín cartel bribed airlines and tourist boats to ship small quantities of doga. Escobar managed to get up to two tons of cocaine in small sailboats from Urabá to Central America. The modality has resurfaced but in luxury jets. Last year the British authorities discovered a charter flight. It had left Bogota with 500 kilos of hydrochloride.
So they discovered a large network that used VIP service airlines to hire luxury jets. They camouflaged false entrepreneurs who came to do “business” in Colombia. They embarked with their designer suitcases full of coca paste. Escobar did that method with his partner Carlos Lehder, who bought an island in the Bahamas to land the aircraft.
They also established the so-called ‘ mules.’ They are people who ingest drug capsules or carry them adhered to their bodies or in their double-bottomed suitcases. They travel to other countries and move that way. It is still a widely used strategy. Now even the capsules also carry money. It is the way to transport the profits of illegal activity from one country to another.
Another method that has been perfected is the one that Escobar used. They were dropping the merchandise that went on airplanes into the open sea. It was then later picked up by speedboats to transport it to Miami. The system was discovered by the DEA and stopped being used. But the Colombian drug lords transformed it into what they call ‘ parasites. ‘
The National Navy explains that the ‘parasites’ are tubes filled with cocaine hooked on merchant ships. It can be with or without their collaboration, carrying a buoy with a locator. Suppose the vessel is intercepted in some way by the authorities. The narcos release the parasites, which quickly move away to three or four nautical miles. When the operation ends, they recover the accurately located cargo via satellite.
Among the strategies that have returned is one of the most famous of Escobar for his boldness. They were impregnating garments with liquid cocaine. After a chemical process, it was recovered. The capo wore jeans. When the authorities discovered it, they began to check each order of clothing sent abroad.
So the leader of the Medellín Cartel decided to start impregnating the cardboard boxes in which the jeans were going. If a shipment were intercepted, the authorities would keep the clothes to check it and throw out the boxes. They were then picked up by the narcos and recovered the drug.
That same method is used by wearing clothes and hiding cocaine through a chemical process in creams and gels. It can also be done with exfoliants or adhering to plastic. It can be mixed with coal and fruit pulp. They even change the appearance of the drug, such as color and smell. That way, it goes unnoticed at regular airport checkpoints.
Last year, the Anti-narcotics Police of the El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá seized a 90-centimeter painting. It was of the Virgin Mary. They hid 10 kilos of pink cocaine, better known as 2CB. It was hidden between the ink and the frame of the painting. The cargo would have a value of 35 thousand dollars on the black market in the United States.
It is 40 years after these methods were invented by Pablo Escobar and his partners in the Medellin cartel. The current narcos are using them again. The authorities investigate whether another reason for this change is the return of old and powerful drug traffickers of that time. Maybe they have returned to the country after serving their sentences in the United States.