Countries across South America are struggling to crack down on so-called “parásito” trafficking whereby metal cylinders full of drugs are being welded onto the hulls of ships by divers. The tubes – sometimes dubbed narco-torpedoes – are often painted the same colour as the ship’s hull to avoid detection.
Peruvian police have just busted a drug ring that used divers to attach cocaine shipments to the hulls of a number of ships. Among the 12 arrested were two Peruvian naval officers.
Similar tactics have been seen in ships leaving Colombia and Ecuador.
The problem facing South American authorities is a lack of resources with Ecuador, for instance, having just 30 government-paid divers at its disposal across eight major ports.
Three months ago a man was caught swimming in Ecuador’s Guayaquil port dragging cases containing 138 kg of cocaine, heading towards a vessel bound for Spain.