I ate my wafer...

11/20/2006

Coast Guard Catches DIY submarine...

So Reuters has a news item about a group of Columbian that were busted using their homemade submarine to smuggle drugs. Which leads to the obvious questions:

A. Where can I get plans for a homemade submarine?

B. What the hell is the U.S. Coast Guard doing arresting people off the coast of Costa Rica and taking them to the continental U.S. for trial? No doubt, I was absent when that particular part of U.S. criminal law was explained. I suppose if there were documents in the sub that discussed the time and place of the cocaine delivery it might make some legal sense. Otherwise, even with the UN conventions about drug smuggling (1988 convention, I think), the initial boarding seems a bit fishy. Probably, the submarine was in Costa Rica's own waters, and they've cut a deal with the coast guard allowing searches. If it was in international waters, under a flag (Iran for example) that doesn't automatically allow USCG searches, it makes a much more interesting question.

C. Does the USCG only search unarmed, dinky little boats? I doubt the USCG runs around searching Cuban Naval vessels. Then again, the USCG did some boldly illegal stuff in the early days of world war two, including capturing a bunch of Norwegians, in Greenland, and charging them as illegal immigrants (all at least 6 months before Pearl Harbor!).


On second thought, since the Colombians weren't uniformed combatants, and drug smuggling is rather over-eagerly linked to terror, they're really lucky that they didn't wind up at Guantanamo.

(Does anyone have an url for the DEA's "Priceless" Mastercard parody ad that linked marijuana to terrorism? It was on during the 2002 superbowl)

4 Comments:

  • three things... first, you have to understand that everyone in Latin America is afraid of Colombians, so the more the US hauls off to jail, the better, as far as they're concerned. second, I wouldn't be surprised if the US has some deal worked out with Costa Rica (which doesn't have a military) which dates to around 1979, when the Sandinistas came to power in Nicaragua. third, never underestimate the power of the war on drugs. it's about the only thing we care about in Latin America, and I imagine we offer any number of carrots in return for permission to opperate without anyone asking uncomfortable questions like you just have.

    By Anonymous pjk, at 3:47 PM  

  • My Boop made a sub. I bet my dad could help answer some of your homemade sub questions.

    By Blogger TheAmber, at 4:47 PM  

  • Searching a vessel of a sovereign flag is an act of war, unless permission is granted. The USCG has several bi-lateral agrrements with several South American, Central American and Carribeaan governments that allow the CG to search and detain vessels under those flags.
    If a vessel is deemed stateless (no flag) it can be boarded by any sovereign nation under maritime law. A U.S. District Court in California recently upheld a CG seizure of a drug vessel on the premise the drugs were intended for distribution in the U.S.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:08 PM  

  • Anon.:

    Do you have a case cite for the seizure? I'd like to pull it, but I'm lazy.

    I'm curious as to what it takes for intent to distribute. If you have a boat full of cocaine, but you're just driving it around in circles outside the mile limit, is that evidence of intent?

    I know that back in the day (1920's) there was some sort of court battle over seizing booze that was on offshore motherships.

    By Blogger Bob, at 4:45 PM  

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